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Universal chief addresses staff of expanded major

By | Published on Tuesday 2 October 2012

Lucian Grainge

Universal Music chief Lucian Grainge yesterday delivered a rally call to his troops, old and new (and very new) via a memo, following the completion last week of the mega-major’s acquisition of the EMI record company.

His first missive to go to staffers at Capitol, Virgin Records and all the other EMI units that are now part of the Universal Music Group, as well as existing UMG employees, Grainge repeated a lot of the rhetoric used by the major’s execs during the regulatory investigations into the EMI deal: Universal will invest in EMI like never before; it’s an end to uncertainty at the former British major; artists, entrepreneurs and technological innovation are what it’s all about; Universal’s multi-label architecture will ensure the EMI labels retain autonomy giving artists more choice who to work with; and at Universal everyone has music in their blood. That kind of thing.

Presumably aware that the memo would be read beyond the walls of Universal/EMI HQ, Grainge repeated his vision of a bigger better music rights industry, noting: “I have made a manifesto commitment to talent acquisition, musical and technological innovation, and broad, non-discriminatory licensing that is a call to action for the entire industry”.

Very much a rally call (with a few thank yous here and there), the memo contained very little information about what the combined Universal/EMI will look like. Which EMI units will remain standalone entities as divisions of the mega-major, and which will be absorbed by existing UMG businesses? What brands will be used moving forward? Who will report into whom? And quite where will the promised £100 million in savings to be achieved by combining Universal and EMI be made? Grainge: “there will be more to tell you about our plans in the months ahead”.

Indeed there will. But for now, an optimistic sign off: “For our new team members who don’t know me yet, I’ve dedicated my entire professional career to working with people who have music in their blood. Now we can move forward and empower a new generation of artists and entrepreneurs. Our future together is going to be exciting”.