BOYD MUIR, 58
CFO/executive vp/president of operations, Universal Music Group
MICHELE ANTHONY, 61
Executive vp, Universal Music Group
Last Year’s Rank: 13
ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE YEAR: UMG’s 2017 revenue is expected to be up 10 percent on a constant currency basis compared with the previous year; earnings before interest, taxes and amortization are expected to jump almost 20 percent.
SURFING THE STREAMING WAVE: In the first nine months of 2017, recorded-music revenue grew 12.1 percent at the world’s largest music company, with streaming accounting for 48 percent of that during the third quarter. “We continue to transform from a product-based company to a music-based entertainment company,” says Anthony, who has helped UMG expand into film/TV with projects like The Story of Motown, coming later this year.
CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT: Muir, who recently added the title “president of operations,” ensures that transformation runs smoothly and oversees UMG’s Bravado (merchandise) and Eagle Rock (video) divisions. “We’re talking about engagement, activation, all different metrics,” he says. “The pace of change is just breathtaking.”
‘IT’S ABOUT CHANGING THE CULTURE’
Universal Music Group executive and industry trailblazer Michele Anthony says the only path to gender equality is to “empower women at all levels”
By Robert Levine
Michele Anthony has been one of the most powerful women in the music -business for as long as the media have made lists of them. For a while, though, she didn’t have much company. In 1990, when Anthony was 33, Sony Music CEO Tommy Mottola recruited her from the law firm Manatt Phelps Rothenberg & Phillips to help him rebuild the organization. Soon after, “I was asked to go to an international management meeting in Japan, and I walked into a big ballroom of 1,800 men in Tokyo,” she remembers. “I was the only woman in the room other than the translators.”
Fast forward to 2018: The entertainment business, like the corporate world in general, is grappling with workplace sexual misconduct, as well as the broader issues of gender representation. And Anthony — since 2013 the executive vp of Universal Music Group, where she helps oversee the recorded-music giant’s U.S. labels, runs new business operations globally and serves on the executive management board — is making sure other women can follow her to the top.
“The overall issue isn’t just harassment, so the solution isn’t just about changing behavior — it’s about changing the culture,” says Anthony. “Until we empower women at all levels — especially in leadership — you’re not going to transform the culture and get at the root of the problem.” To that end, UMG participates in the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which promotes diversity in media as well as the entertainment business, and Anthony oversees the label group’s college network program, which has been an important source for young female hires. She’s also active in raising money for Hedgebrook, a retreat for women writers she got involved in through her friendship with Gloria Steinem. (The pioneering feminist feted Anthony last June at the UJA-Federation of New York’s annual luncheon, where she called her friend a “great nurturer of others.”)
Anthony herself never questioned whether she belonged in the music industry. She grew up spending summers on the road with her father, prominent artist manager Dee Anthony, watching him negotiate with promoters and -helping him run tours for Peter Frampton and other clients. “My dad wasn’t doing this to empower women — it was to get the job done,” she says. “But my wish is that every young girl could have that kind of -confidence instilled in her.”
Anthony also says her mother set an example by working her way up to become an executive at the jewelry chain Zales, and she remembers them reading Steinem together and talking about the importance of equal pay for women.
When she started at Sony, recalls Anthony, it was awkward for male executives to report to younger women. Some of that is generational, though, and today she says that men don’t think twice about it. “One of the biggest changes I have seen — and would like to think I’ve helped in my own way — is the inclusion and the empowerment of women, being valued at whatever level,” she says. “There has been a lot of improvement, but I hope we’re never satisfied.”