Executive Turntable

UMG Promotes Michael Seltzer to EVP of Business & Legal Affairs

Michael Seltzer
Courtesy Photo

Michael Seltzer

Seltzer also adds head of commercial transactions to his business card. In his expanded role, he’ll focus on maximizing and extending the company's assets and relationships into new areas.

Michael Seltzer has been promoted to executive vp of business & legal affairs and head of commercial transactions at Universal Music Group (UMG), the company has announced.

In the elevated role, Seltzer will oversee a team of 15 attorneys while helping shape and negotiate the company’s agreements, including recording contracts, label ventures, label distribution, merchandise, vendors, trademark entities, brand partners, film, TV and theatrical productions and equity and asset acquisitions. He will remain at the company’s global headquarters in Santa Monica and continue reporting to Jeffrey Harleston, UMG’s general counsel and executive vp of business & legal affairs.

Seltzer notes that his promotion comes amid UMG’s continued expansion into multiple business segments. “There's the areas that are sort of more customary…then there's film and TV and branding and less conventional [ones],” Seltzer tells Billboard. “And then there's that whole area of maximizing our assets and relationships with the artists, with entrepreneurs, into different areas.”

By way of example, Seltzer mentions UMG's recent entry into the hotel industry; last October, the company announced plans to build a series of “music-based experiential hotel properties” that will host their own live music venues, under a joint venture with entertainment impact investment group Dakia U-Ventures. Other new ventures as of late include the company's recent deal with toy manufacturer LEGO for a new app and toy experience as well as its wide-ranging partnership with TikTok, which was announced earlier this week.

"We are extremely fortunate to have an executive of Michael's background, experience and expertise to provide guidance, counsel and leadership in these critical areas," said Harleston in a release.

Seltzer has been in the UMG family on and off since 1998, when his then-label home Island Records was absorbed into Universal Music Group as part of its merger with Polygram. After leaving the fold for a five-year stint as chief operating officer at Island founder Chris Blackwell’s Palm Pictures, he was brought back to Island Def Jam Music Group as senior vp of business & legal affairs. In 2011, he was named senior vp of business & legal affairs for UMG’s East Coast labels -- Def Jam Recordings, Island Records and Republic Records -- before being appointed senior vp of business & legal affairs, commercial transactions at UMG in 2016. Seltzer started his entertainment law career in 1990, when he was hired as an attorney at PolyGram Records.

"So I went from the largest major [Polygram], then I went to a major label, Island Records, within the Universal system. And then from the major label I went to an indie label, which was Palm Pictures...and then back to a major label, Island, once it had been merged with Def Jam and Republic, and then back to the corporate center,” says Seltzer, reflecting on his long career. “So it's sort of like a full arc."

Seltzer serves as an advisor and in board roles with Cardozo School of Law’s Entertainment Law Board, Cornell’s Media Alumni Advisory Board, New Jersey Youth Symphony, Goldeneye and the Oracabessa Foundation, Tuff Gong Collective/Bob Marley Music and Blackwell’s venture with UMG.

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