Universal Music Group chairman Lucian Grainge issued his annual memo to UMG employees on Dec. 19 touting the company's performance in the streaming sector, Republic Records being named as Billboard's No.1 label of 2016 and even giving Mozart a shout-out.
"We had the most streamed artists in the world on Apple Music and Spotify -- with Drake and Rihanna scoring the first and second most streamed albums on Apple and Drake, Justin Bieber and Rihanna being the top three most streamed on Spotify," Grainge wrote, adding, "The world’s best-selling CD of the year was by an artist more than 250 years old."
Grainge also hailed "important new agreements" with digital services Amazon, Pandora and SoundCloud, promising "more will follow in 2017." Universal merchandise arm, Bravado, and the growing presence of pop-up shops were mentioned as another way to trigger revenue via "compelling tangible products."
A longtime proponent of projects in film and television and live events, Grainge also cited "VR and direct-to-fan products" as "redefining our role as a music company and artist partner."
Read the full memo below...
I want to take this moment, before the year-end break, to thank each of you for what UMG accomplished in 2016. For yet another incredible year, UMG continued to lead the industry creatively and commercially. What makes our accomplishments even sweeter is that, after a long and difficult transition, the industry is once again seeing growth.
Were I to list all the records we broke and awards we won around the world in 2016, it would take us into 2017, so I'll highlight just a few:
· We had the most streamed artists in the world on Apple Music and Spotify -- with Drake and Rihanna scoring the first and second most streamed albums on Apple and Drake, Justin Bieber and Rihanna being the top three most streamed on Spotify. Drake, by the way, for the second year in a row, was the most-streamed artist in the world.
· The world’s best-selling CD of the year was by an artist more than 250 years old: Decca and Deutsche Grammophon’s Mozart 225: The New Complete Edition.
· In the U.S., we had the four most-streamed albums of the year: Drake, Rihanna, Kanye West and Justin Bieber as well as three of the four biggest album debuts of the year with Drake, J. Cole and The Weeknd. Also, Republic will close the year as Billboard’s No. 1 label.
· In Japan, the world's second-largest market, we had the top two albums of 2016: Utada Hikaru and RADWIMPS.
· When it came to awards, we won the most ACMs, AMAs, Billboard Music Awards, CMAs, Oscars (U.S.), Brits (U.K.), JUNOs (Canada), ARIAs (Australia), ECHOs and ECHO Klassiks (Germany), MTV EMAs (Europe) of any music company.
· UMPG not only won top honors at the SESAC Pop Awards and BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards, but also struck new deals with Adele, Coldplay, Future, Maroon 5, Pearl Jam, Prince, R.E.M., Red Hot Chili Peppers, Romeo Santos and Harry Styles, to name but a few.
These outstanding achievements were reflected in our financial results, and we were able to grow our constant currency revenue over the last four consecutive quarters. However, the overall market is experiencing what I would describe as a “fragile” recovery. Which means that not only do we need to do our part in continuing to break new artists and aggressively evolving our business, but if we want to enjoy continued success then we also need to do everything we can to promote competition, innovation and sustainable growth in the broader music ecosystem.
Our ability to support a mix of services -- from independent music platforms to big tech players -- in order to achieve the appropriate balance between ad-supported and paid subscription models will have a direct impact on our and our artists’ success. To that end, this year we struck important new agreements with Amazon, Pandora and SoundCloud -- and more will follow in 2017. Success will also require us to meet the enduring consumer demand for compelling tangible products, from recorded music to artist-related merchandise. Bravado's innovative efforts to connect artists and fans led us to create groundbreaking pop-up shops around the world for Kanye West, Justin Bieber and Guns N’ Roses, among others. Those types of initiatives combined with the success we’re having in film and television, live events, VR and direct-to-fan products are redefining our role as a music company and artist partner.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that the work you do at UMG is the single most important catalyst for the growth of our entire industry. It is ultimately your passion and expertise that builds the environment in which a wide range of consumer offerings and a variety of players can ensure that recording artists, songwriters, consumers, labels and publishers all thrive.
Thank you again for all you contribute to UMG. I look forward to working with you to make 2017 another incredible year. In the meantime, I wish you and your loved ones a joyous and peaceful holiday season and a very very happy new year.