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Universal Music appoints a new chief lobbyist

By | Published on Monday 9 November 2015

Universal Music

Following that top level rejig at Universal Music last month, the mega-major has appointed a new Executive VP Of Public Affairs, who will be responsible for lobbying activities on a global basis. Eric Berman, a former White House staffer, has worked for nearly two decades at New York-based communications agency Kekst, and in his new job will report into Universal Music’s top legal and communication execs, Jeffrey Harleston and Will Tanous respectively.

Harleston said of the new hire: “Eric is the rare professional who truly lives at the intersection of public policy and business. He has a proven judgment that can only come from the kind of diverse real-life experiences he has had at the highest levels of government, politics and business”.

Meanwhile, noting Berman’s past consultancy role for the major, Tanous added: “After working together for years, we are fortunate to have Eric join UMG. As a trusted adviser to our executive team, he has demonstrated a perceptive understanding of the challenges facing our industry, a keen vision for how to seize the opportunities before us and an astute appreciation for how to advance public policy in the mutual best interest of all of our industry’s stakeholders”.

The new appointment comes as the music rights industry faces some big battles in the political domain, including the fight to secure a public performance right as part of the sound recording copyright in the US (so that American AM/FM radio stations have to pay royalties, like their counterparts worldwide); various issues around compulsory licensing and statutory rates, also mainly Stateside; and the campaign to reform safe harbours in copyright law, which involves taking on the phenomenal Google lobby in Washington and Brussels.

While these are battles for the record industry at large, not just Universal, as the biggest music rights firm the mega-major will be expected to play a significant role.