Leading UMG’s corporate discipline as the only major to post both a sales gain and improved profitability indicators
When Lucian Grainge assumed command of Universal Music Group in 2011, from day one he brought his own senior management team, notably Boyd Muir and Max Hole.
Since then, UMG has made some bold moves, not the least of which was the acquisition of EMI’s recorded-music operation and subsequent investment in revitalizing Capitol Music Group. Muir has emerged as more than the executive VP and CFO with influence that goes far beyond laying out the financial parameters of the deal. UMG insiders say Muir influences how the company operates.
At the end of September, Grainge further buttressed senior management by bringing in Michele Anthony, a consummate industry insider, as executive VP of U.S. recorded music to work closely with Muir and the senior management of the U.S. label teams and help maximize commercial and strategic opportunities. Anthony headed up her own consulting and management firm, 7H Entertainment, two of whose clients, Pearl Jam and Black Sabbath, released albums in 2013 that hit No. 1 on global charts including the Billboard 200.
Previously, Anthony worked at Sony Music Entertainment for 15 years, rising to one of its top three executives despite regime changes.
Looking at how the industry has shifted, she says there’s “a common denominator to what we learn every year: No matter the platform or the media, it’s still about great artists making great music that we see rising to the top.”
For Muir, 2013 was all about the “successful integration of EMI into [UMG], which required a lot of work.” Going forward, he says the challenges for his company and the industry will remain the evolution from the CD to digital and subscriptions. It represents a difficult path to navigate, he says, because industry executives have to acquire new skill sets to maximize the opportunities presented by the subscription model while maintaining the infrastructure to support the legacy distribution channels.