Universal Music Group

Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group
Type Subsidiary of Vivendi
Industry Music & entertainment
Founded 1934 (as Decca Records USA)
1989 (MCA Music Entertainment Group formed)
1996 (first UMG incarnation)
1998 (second UMG incarnation)
Headquarters Santa Monica, California United States
Key people Lucian Grainge: Chairman & CEO
Zach Horowitz: President & COO
Boyd Muir: CFO
Max Hole: Chief Operating Officer of UMG International
Revenue increase€4,449 million (2010)
Operating income increase€140 million (2010)
Employees 6,967 (2010)
Parent Universal (1996-2006)
Vivendi (100%)
Divisions Universal Music Publishing Group
Universal Music Group Distribution
The Island Def Jam Motown Music Group
Universal Republic Records
Universal Music Group Nashville
Verve Music Group
Decca Label Group
Universal Music Latin Entertainment
Universal Music Enterprises
Universal Strategic Marketing
Show Dog-Universal Music
V2/Co-operative Music
Polydor Records
Mercury Music Group
Island Records Group
Universal Music TV
London Records
Twenty-First Artists
Website universalmusic.com

Universal Music Group (UMG) is an American music group and is the largest in the music industry. It is the largest of the "big four" record companies by its commanding market share and its multitude of global operations. Universal Music Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of French media conglomerate Vivendi.

Universal Music Group owns a music publisher, Universal Music Publishing Group, which became the world's largest following the acquisition of BMG Music Publishing in May 2007.



Early History

"Universal Music" was once the music company attached to film studio Universal Pictures. Its origins go back to the formation of the American branch of Decca Records in 1934.[1] The Decca Corporation of England spun American Decca off in 1939.[2] MCA Inc. bought American Decca in 1962. The present organization was formed when its parent company Seagram purchased PolyGram and merged it with Universal Music Group in 1998. However, the name first appeared in 1996 when MCA Music Entertainment Group was renamed Universal Music Group. The PolyGram acquisition included Deutsche Grammophon which traces its ancestry to Berliner Gramophone making Deutsche Grammophon UMG's oldest unit. UMG's Canadian unit traces its ancestry to a Berliner Gramophone breakaway firm the Compo Company.

Acquisition by Vivendi

With the 2004 acquisition of Vivendi's Vivendi Universal Entertainment by General Electric's NBC, Universal Music Group was entirely separated from the film studio of the same namesake. This is the second time a music company has done so, the first being Time Warner and Warner Music Group completely separating from each other. In February 2006, the group became 100% owned by French media conglomerate Vivendi SA when Vivendi purchased the last 20% from Matsushita, the group's sole owner from 1990 to 1995 and co-owner from 1995 to 2006. On June 25, 2007, Vivendi completed its €1.63 billion ($2.4 billion) purchase of BMG Music Publishing, after receiving European Union regulatory approval, having announced the acquisition on September 6, 2006.[3][4]


Doug Morris stepped down from his position as CEO on January 1, 2011. Former Chairman/CEO of Universal Music International Lucian Grainge was promoted to CEO of the company. Grainge later replaced him as chairman on March 9, 2011.[5] Morris became the next chairman of Sony Music Entertainment on July 1, 2011.[6] With Grainge's appointment as CEO at UMG, Max Hole was promoted to COO of UMGI, effective July 1, 2010.[7] Starting in 2011 UMG's Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records will be signing contestants from American Idol. On January 2011, UMG announced it was donating 200,000 master recordings from the 1920s to 1940s to the Library of Congress for preservation.[8]

In March 2011, Barry Weiss became Chairman & CEO of The Island Def Jam Motown Music Group & Universal Republic Records.[9] Both companies are in the process of restructuring under Weiss.[10]


Multimedia content delivery

Universal Music Group co-developed Vevo, a site designed for music videos inspired by Hulu.com, which similarly, will allow for free, ad-supported streaming of music videos and other music content. The music videos are shown in better quality than the original ones on YouTube. [11]


Santa Monica

UMG's Global headquarters seen overhead in Santa Monica

The UMG main global headquarters are located at 2220 Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica. The Santa Monica headquarters oversees all of its legal obligations in the US and Canada such as Human Resources, and any legal issues surrounding the company. Interscope-Geffen-A&M is headquartered in Santa Monica in the building's west end. The Island Def Jam Motown Music Group has some offices at the Santa Monica headquarters in the building's east end. The building is also home to Universal Music Enterprises (UME). UMG Chairman & CEO Lucian Grainge works out of the company's Santa Monica headquarters. Universal Music Publishing is headquartered at 2100 Colorado Avenue, which is down the block from UMG's offices. Universal Music Group Distribution is headquartered in nearby Universal City, CA.

New York City

Even though California is where a lot of UMG's corporate decisions are made, UMG has a major workforce in New York which considers it as a secondary headquarter. UMG's New York City headquarters deals mainly with Universal's marketing, Information Systems, and finance. It is also where several of UMG's labels are headquartered. The Island Def Jam Motown Music Group, Universal Republic Records, Verve Music Group, Decca Label Group & A&M/Octone are all based in New York.


Universal Music Group International (UMGI) is headquartered in London. UMGI manages UMG's offices in most countries outside of North America. UMG also has offices in Romford.

Other Locations

Universal Music Latino in headquartered in Miami. Universal Music Group Nashville is headquartered in Nashville. UMG's parent company, Vivendi, is headquarters in Paris, France.



In May 2006, an investigation led by then New York attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, concluded with a determination that Universal Music Group bribed radio stations to play songs from Ashlee Simpson, Brian McKnight, Big Tymers, Nick Lachey, Lindsay Lohan and other performers under Universal labels. The company paid $12 million to the state in settlement.[12]


In May 2007, UMG was accused of abusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in order to squelch criticism, by forcing YouTube to remove several videos that contain UGM's music in it. This has caused much anger and frustration to many youtubers. One of the videos they took off is a Michelle Malkin video critical of singer Akon.[13][14] Eventually, UMG backed off its claims after being challenged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.[15][16] In the same year, UMG was accused of using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to indiscriminately remove content related to the artist Prince, most notably a twenty-nine second home video in which children danced to one of Prince's songs.[17] Universal's Music Group channel was the first to get 1 billion views. It also got 1 million subscribers, the 4th channel to receive that number.[citation needed]


In December 2007 UMG announced a deal with Imeem which allows users of the social network to listen to any track from Universal's catalogue for free with a portion of the advertising generated by the music being shared with the record label.[18] Two weeks after the deal was announced Michael Robertson speculated on the secret terms of the deal and argued that ultimately this was a bad deal for imeem. This speculation lead to a flame war on the Pho digital media email list as imeem representatives denied his claims and dismissed his theories as unfounded.[19] Imeem is a defunct website and all traffic was deferred to MySpace.

See also

Factory 1b.svg Companies portal


  1. ^ "US Decca LP Labels". HeroInc.0Catch.com. Daniels, Frank. 2003. http://heroinc.0catch.com/decca/. Retrieved 20 March 2008. 
  2. ^ Foresight, Hard Work Raise Decca Baby thru Trying Tines into a Giant
  3. ^ Adegoke, Yinka (25 May 2007). "Universal Music closes on BMG". Reuters.com (Thomson Reuters). http://www.reuters.com/article/industryNews/idUSN2524635320070528. Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  4. ^ "Universal to buy BMG publishing". News.BBC.co.uk (BBC News). 6 September 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/5319050.stm. Retrieved 25 November 2007. 
  5. ^ http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry/record-labels/vivendi-appoints-lucian-grainge-chairman-1005066282.story
  6. ^ Smith, Ethan (3 March 2011). "Sony Music Recruits CEO". The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703559604576176500047935830.html?mod=googlenews_wsj. 
  7. ^ "Universal Music Group International promotes Max Hole to Chief Operating Officer". ifpi.org. 15 March 2010. http://www.ifpi.org/content/section_news/20100315.html. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  8. ^ "Pop & Hiss". Los Angeles Times. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/music_blog/2011/01/universal-music-library-of-congress-bing-crosby-ella-fitzgerald.html. 
  9. ^ http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry/record-labels/barry-weiss-named-chairman-ceo-of-island-1005079562.story
  10. ^ http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry/record-labels/ethiopia-habtemariam-named-senior-vice-president-1005312132.story
  11. ^ Exclaim News: Universal to Create Hulu-like Music Video Site
  12. ^ Garrity, Brian (11 May 2006). "UMG Settles With Spitzer". Billboard.biz. MediaWeek. http://www.mediaweek.com/mw/news/tvstations/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002501367. Retrieved 20 November 2008. [dead link]
  13. ^ Michelle Malkin » Akon’s record company abuses DMCA to stifle criticism on YouTube
  14. ^ Press Releases: May, 2007 | Electronic Frontier Foundation
  15. ^ Press Releases: May, 2007 | Electronic Frontier Foundation
  16. ^ Michelle Malkin » UMG & YouTube retreat over Akon report
  17. ^ Lenz v. Universal Music Corp.
  18. ^ [1] (Internet Archive of original link)
  19. ^ Digital Music War Gets Dirtier - News Blog - Daily Brief - Portfolio.com

External links

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