Universal Music UK Launches New Data Science Division The Square

Simon McMahon, Lewis Millar, Alexandra Dodd, Jack Fryer, Arslaan Ahmed, Helen Kennedy, Jon Fell, Charlotte Thomson
Courtesy Photo

Simon McMahon, Lewis Millar, Alexandra Dodd, Jack Fryer, Arslaan Ahmed, Helen Kennedy, Jon Fell and Charlotte Thomson.

Jack Fryer promoted to managing director of new in-house agency, which aims to be a "partner to creativity" for labels, managers and artists.

LONDON – Universal Music UK is ramping up its resources in data science, research and strategy to give artists and labels a competitive advantage in a fast-moving, increasingly crowded marketplace.

To achieve that aim the label has launched a new in-house agency called The Square, which Universal says exists at "the intersection between big data, human insight, strategy and creativity."

Based at Universal Music UK’s London headquarters, the division is headed by managing director Jack Fryer, who steps up from senior director of strategic planning and reports to David Hawkes, MD of the major’s commercial and creative services division.

Joining Fryer at The Square are senior strategists Jon Fell and Simon McMahon, audience researcher Alexandra Dodd, data scientist Lewis Millar, international research and strategist Charlotte Thomson, junior strategist Arslaan Ahmed and creative strategist Helen Kennedy, who moves to the newly-created team from a senior marketing role at Virgin EMI.

Together, they will work across the entire Universal Music UK portfolio, including Abbey Road Studios and partnerships division Globe, acting as a "partner to creativity" for labels, managers and artists.

Announcing the new division, Universal Music UK chairman David Joseph praised Fryer as an "exceptional executive" and "truly creative thinker… immersed in the science."

"His vision is for The Square to be a place that our labels, our managers and our artists come to gain an edge – whether that’s simply about learning something new, shaping a strategy or forging a new idea," said Joseph.

"We want to be a 21st Century service for a 21st Century music company," added Fryer, who joined Universal Music from EMI in 2013 as head of insight. He said The Square would act as a collaborative network, as opposed to a centralized service, and would build on the foundations of Universal’s existing research and planning team.

"Insightful ideas, strategic ideas, useful ideas, audience ideas, progressive ideas, data-driven ideas, creative ideas, communication ideas, business ideas, innovative ideas," said Fryer, "are our currency."