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A STARRING ROLE
FOR SIR LUCIAN

UMG chieftain Sir Lucian Grainge was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Thursday (1/23). The ceremony began at 11:30am on Vine Street, adjacent to the Capitol Tower. Lionel Richie, Shawn Mendes and Mitch O'Farrell of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce offered their thoughts on the great man and his myriad accomplishments, amidst a heavy crowd of industry players and UMG artists.

Spotted in attendance were artists Justin Bieber, Sam Smith, Hailee Steinfeld, Beck, Lewis Capaldi and Tori Kelly, and executives Michele Anthony, Steve Barnett, Paul Rosenberg, Steve Berman, Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith, Scooter Braun and Haim Saban. In his remarks during the presentation, Grainge thanked all of the artists on UMG, and gave props to all of the executives he works with every day that make him look good. 

Throughout a career that spans more than four decades, Grainge has been a winner, aggressive, decisive and insightful in his decision-making. As our own I.B. Bad recently noted, “No music group in the last three decades has so fully dominated the biz like UMG under Grainge—not only in marketshare (finishing 2019 with a leonine 38.1%), revenue ($5.66b through Q3, up 15%+) and hits (four of the year’s Top 5 albums and seven of the Top 10, as well as seven of the Top 10 songs), but in terms of an ever-expanding, ever-scaling, ever-aggressive global leadership. The 24/7 competitive cauldron he’s stirred keeps everyone focused, and the company’s culture and relentless drive have made Uni the most effective player in these youthquake times, where streaming rules.” 

“Technology and talent,” he once explained. “That’s what I’m trying to do: merge talent and technology.”

In 2012, a year into his reign, Grainge pulled off the Steal of the Century, acquiring EMI’s recorded-music assets in 2012 for the bargain-basement price of $1.9 billion. That investment has paid off many times over as a central component in the rise of UMG’s market value to $33.6 billion at the point of its deal with China’s Tencent, which has taken a 10% stake in the company, potentially opening up what could be the biggest music market ever.

Even more crucially, Sir Lucian—as he’s now formally addressed, having been knighted by Prince William in November 2016 for his accomplishments in the business—has led the industrywide crusade for premium streaming across every viable platform, helping to reverse a decade and a half of contraction, revitalizing and restoring optimism to a moribund industry.

“The dramatic worldwide increase in streaming has been the single most important catalyst in returning UMG—and the music industry at large—to growth,” Grainge said with undisguised pride, in late 2017. “We started, of course, with great music. That’s where it all begins.”

And that’s precisely what his mission statement has been from the beginning. By prioritizing A&R—optimizing existing talent while developing new career artists—Grainge has kept the focus on any music company’s most important asset.

What’s more, this forward-thinking traditionalist has been ahead of the curve in championing gender equality, greenlighting deserving women for key roles at Universal, helping bring together an industry-leading group of top executives that includes corporate EVP Michele Anthony, UMPG CEO Jody Gerson, CMG EVP/COO Michelle Jubelirer, Motown President Ethiopia Habtemariam, Caroline President Jacqueline Saturn, Republic President of West Coast Creative Wendy Goldstein, IGA President of Promotion Brenda Romano, UMG Nashville President Cindy Mabe and Celine Joshua, UMG’s GM, Commercial, Content and Artist Strategy. These moves were practical as well as philosophical. “Lucian chooses his executives without regard to anything but talent,” Azoff noted with admiration.

“All of us know that people who choose to spend their lives in the music business are special, they’re unique and they might be a little bit crazy,” Grainge has acknowledged. “Because for us, this isn’t simply a job, it’s a mission—a mission motivated by our love of music.”

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