Universal Music Group chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge is calling on music industry executives to come together to get artists paid. Last night (Feb. 1), Grainge addressed an audience of Billboard Power 100 honorees in Los Angeles with the hope that the most powerful business figures in the industry can come together on the side of creatives.
“Our industry is entering a new chapter where we’re going to have to pick sides, all of us are going to have to pick sides,” Grainge said from the stage in Hollywood. “Are we on the side of FinTech [Financial Technology] and functional music, functional content? Or are we on the side of artistry, and artists?”
Grainge was the first executive to take the stage after Billboard editorial director Hannah Karp opened the ceremony and introduced Grainge who, once again, landed the top spot on the Billboard Power 100 list this year. Grainge takes the top spot as the leader of UMG which reported third-quarter earnings of 2.66 billion euros (approximately $2.9 billion), up 13.3% year over year in constant currency, a fifth-straight quarter of growth since the company spun off from Vivendi in fall 2021.
His call to action was based on the idea of disrupting the music industry, but from those who care most about it. “I’ve always seen opportunity in disruption. And for those of us that have been in the business, made our living out of music, boy have we seen an enormous amount of disruption,” said Grainge. “But the problem is that all too often we’ve let others disrupt our industry. But if we work together across the music community, we can disrupt the status quo instead. And that offers enormous opportunity for real music, real artists. Now, that’s what I call powerful.”
The executive was also quick to thank his colleagues at UMG and provided a shout out to its label Republic Records, which landed the No. 1 label of the year based on current market share. But Grainge’s short and poignant speech focused on his love of music and those who work on behalf of artists.
“Working on behalf of artists and working to grow this industry has been my life’s passion and I’ve been very lucky,” Grainge said. “I feel very strongly that if we’re to succeed, more than ever, we need to come together as an industry, to fight for artists, and for music.”
He continued: “Let’s focus our energy on rewarding those that make great music and those that made music great. Let’s break artists, fight to get them paid, and to give fans real joy.”