Universal Music Group hosted its annual pre-Grammys showcase in New York yesterday afternoon (Jan 27) – and its CEO/Chairman Sir Lucian Grainge used the occasion to remind the audience how the company responded to the revenue declines that plagued the record business before its recent streaming-led return to growth.
The event welcomed many of UMG’s leading executives and commercial partners, including the likes of Steve Barnett (Capitol Music Group), Daniel Ek (Spotify), Paul Rosenberg (Def Jam), Jody Gerson (UMPG), David Joseph (Universal UK & Ireland), Monte and Avery Lipman (Republic), David Massey (Island), Ethopia Habtemariam (Motown), Michelle Jubelirer (Capitol Music Group), Daniel Glass (Glassnote), Scott Pascucci (Concord Music), Irving Azoff (MSG Entertainment), Scott Borchetta (Big Machine) and Mike Dungan (UMG Nashville).
Artists who performed in front of the invitees included Luis Fonsi, Julia Michaels, Migos, Kacey Musgraves, 6LACK, Logic, Jessie Reyez and Alessia Cara, while other acts such as Sam Smith, James Bay and BJ The Chicago Kid attended.
Telling the audience that his Santa Monica-based team was “thrilled to be in New York”, Grainge welcomed many of the faces in the room, including Andrew Lloyd Webber and “one of the founding fathers of Universal, the legendary Chris Blackwell”.
Continued Grainge: “Our industry has transformed itself to return to growth. We’re immensely and justifiably proud of everything we’ve done as the catalyst for that growth.
“In the face of those declines, we didn’t dig a hole and hide. We invested – in new artists, emerging markets, in new business models and of course in new technologies, as well as in local music, local language, local culture. In every region of the world.”
“In the face of those declines, we didn’t dig a hole and hide. We invested – in new artists, emerging markets, in new business models and of course in new technologies.”
Sir Lucian Grainge
He added: “We never lost faith – we never lost sight of one simple fact. Our one true north star, the thing that really drives us, is music, and our love of music.
“We work tirelessly on behalf of our artists. For us, it’s simply not a job, it’s a mission, it’s like a reflex. [It’s] a mission motivated by our love of music and our love of working with talent.”
The exec’s optimism about the current state of the industry was later reflected by hip-hop legend Nas, who was presented with the Spotlight Award from the New York City Mayor’s Office.
Receiving the award from UMG’s Michele Anthony and from Julie Menin, Commissioner of NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Nas said: “This is love. I’m happy to see everybody in this room doing their thing. I’m happy to see the record business, the music business back in this state… artists are getting paid!”
Universal used the showcase to reveal three new movie documentary projects, currently in development, about The Apollo Theater, The Velvet Underground and Luciano Pavorotti.
[Pictured: Sir Lucian Grainge with Sam Smith at the event, sponsored by Citi and American Airlines.]Music Business Worldwide