Universal Music Group Announces Coronavirus Support Initiative

Universal Music Group logo.
Courtesy of UMG

Universal Music Group logo.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to shut down thousands of businesses around the country and keep millions of people confined to their homes around the globe, the Universal Music Group today (March 30) announced a multi-million dollar initiative intended to support its artists, songwriters and employees over the next several months.

On a base level for its 8,800 employees around the world, the vast majority of which are in the U.S., UMG is launching the UMG All Together Now Foundation to help support those of its workers facing extraordinary hardship brought on by the virus. That’s also included enhanced HR offerings and other programs, as well as a commitment that any employees who cannot work remotely will not see their pay change through at least June 30.

For its artists and assorted companies, the company is also offering a suite of economic flexibility initiatives, including interest-free royalty advances and fee waivers, to help them make it through the shutdown, which currently has no end in sight. The company is also donating directly to MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund (a source says UMG has made the largest contribution there of any record label) and the Help Musicians UK charities, and has committed to matching donations that U.S. employees make to those organizations as well.

Finally, the company is backing a number of initiatives and projects from its artists and labels that are already in the works, and encouraging more in the future. OneRepublic and Interscope are donating the profits from its new single, for example; Billie Eilish released a downloadable coloring book to raise money for Unicef; and proceeds from Selena Gomez’s "Dance Again" merch through Bravado will also benefit the MusiCares fund.

"This thoughtful, broad-based approach is a model for what is desperately needed," said Ted Kalo, executive director of the Artist Rights Alliance, the nonprofit that advocates for fair compensation for artists in the digital age, in a statement provided to Billboard. "People who create music need reassurances that their income and healthcare aren’t lost. Providing major and sorely-needed support to organizations bringing aid to everyone impacted by the virus is also critical. It is just one effort by a single company, but it is a very good start.”

The initiatives come as a slew of music companies and services have stepped forward to help support artists and creators during the pandemic, either by waiving fees or expediting payments or establishing funds or fundraisers for artists and affected communities. And UMG in particular has felt the effects of the outbreak; earlier this month, UMG chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge was hospitalized after contracting the coronavirus.