Africa expansion for UMG/Boomplay and for Freeme Digital

From DSP launches to label expansions to [waves enormous plug] new education initiatives for the industry, there is plenty of exciting activity happening around Africa’s music ecosystem. There are two more examples to report on this morning. First, Universal Music Group has extended its licensing deal with streaming service Boomplay from seven countries in Africa to […]

Universal Music Group’s revenues grew by 3.8% in 2020

Universal Music is the latest major label to publish financial results showing that its business rode out the Covid-19 storm in 2020. UMG’s revenues for the year grew by 3.8% to €7.43bn (around $8.95bn) – or by 4.7% when calculated as ‘organic growth’. Within that, UMG’s recorded music revenues grew by 5.9% to €5.97bn, although that increase […]

UMG and Gameloft launch Queen: Rock Tour mobile game

After a fan-made music videos contest and the band’s official TikTok debut, the latest stage in Queen’s digital strategy has been revealed: a mobile game. It’s called ‘Queen: Rock Tour’, and launched today for Android and iOS. Universal Music is keeping it in the family too: the Vivendi family, since the game is by Gameloft, the games publishing subsidiary of UMG’s […]

Universal Music Group to go public with Amsterdam listing

The London Stock Exchange may be the listing venue of choice for companies like Hipgnosis and Round Hill Music, but Universal Music Group will be going public on a different European exchange – later this year. Parent company Vivendi confirmed its plans to spin off UMG on the Euronext exchange in Amsterdam, in an announcement that came […]

Sandbox Issue 269: Indie-Visible: balancing Indie rock marketing on streaming and IRL

Lead: Indie-Visible – Marketing indie rock bands on streaming platforms can be tricky for a number of reasons: their traditionally album-based release cycle goes counter to the current approach of endless singles; their aesthetic, ethos and fandom require patience and context; and while their fanbase wants their favourite artists on streaming services, they also demand special physical products […]

Triller hits back at UMG claiming artists can license direct

If you thought Donald Trump’s advisers’ attempts to overturn the US presidential election would be the most surprising legal arguments you’d hear in 2021… Well, Triller might just have, ahem, trumped them. After Universal Music Group pulled its catalogue from the short video platform saying it had “shamefully withheld payments owed to our artists”, Triller […]

Universal Music Group could now go public by the end of 2021

A consortium led by Chinese tech giant Tencent has completed its deal to buy another 10% stake in Universal Music Group, valuing the major label at €30bn overall. The consortium now owns 20% of UMG, with majority owner Vivendi saying that the expanded stake “will notably enable UMG to further develop its activities in Asia”. Vivendi’s announcement […]

UMG and Lego’s partnership spawns Vidiyo music video-making app

In April 2020, Universal Music Group and Lego announced that they were working together on some new music-focused products for kids, to be released in 2021. Now the first of those products has been unveiled. It’s called Vidiyo, and it includes an augmented reality app, a new collection of Lego minifigures, and a catalogue of music from […]

UMG signs music licensing deal with fitness service Variis

Variis isn’t a fitness startup as such: it’s a fitness app launched last March by Equinox Media, owner of a chain of gyms in the US. The app works with a Peloton-style connected exercise bike, which costs $2,500, and provides video lessons from instructors. Now, like Peloton, Variis is signing licensing deals with major music labels. […]

Spotify CFO says UMG is ‘willing to lean in more aggressively’ than rivals

Look away, non-Universal major labels: you may feel a little testy about the latest interview with Spotify CFO Paul Vogel, at a conference organised by RBC Capital Markets. He was asked about Spotify’s latest licensing deal with UMG, which includes access to tests of new marketing tools. “There’s nothing preventing the other labels from doing it, […]

Kanye West on contracts campaign: ‘I will help set precedents’

The music industry may still be picking its way through Kanye West’s self-leaked Universal Music Group deals, but West is making it clear that his campaign around artist contracts is more than just a moment on Twitter. “The desired effect will only be achieved when every artist owns their masters. I’m Team ‘Free Artists.’ I’m […]

UMG expands partnership with USC Annenberg diversity initiative

“Black artists consistently top the popular music charts, but African-Americans and other people of colour are not adequately represented in decision-making roles in the music business,” is the first line of a press release from… the biggest label group in the music business. So what is Universal Music doing about this disparity? Having already pledged a $25m ‘change […]

Sandbox Issue 243: The Last 10 Years and The Next 10 Years of Music Marketing

Welcome to the first Sandbox of 2020. Lead: It is now 10 years since we published the very first edition of Sandbox, so to start a new decade we speak to marketers from around the world about the tools and trends that shaped the past decade of music marketing as well as the ones they believe […]

UMG, EMI Trust and The eXceL Project back Secret Studio

As part of a collaboration between UMG, the EMI Trust and youth-community charity The eXceL Project, the three-day education programme Secret Studio has resulted in the release of two new original tracks. The eXceL Project’s (XLP) community leaders picked six individuals, aged between 16 and 20, from different backgrounds across London to harness their creativity […]

Tencent may seek partners for Universal Music investment

It’s been known for some time that Chinese tech firm Tencent is in talks to buy a 10% stake in Universal Music Group, with an option to acquire another 10% for up to a year afterwards. The deal is thought to value UMG at around €30bn, but now there’s been a development: Tencent may not […]

UMG expands its college-marketing program into °1824 team

Universal Music Group is shaking up its ‘college lifestyle marketing program’ in the US, with a new team, and brand, called °1824. The label describes it as “a new marketing, content and experiences team powered by university students and young creatives from around the world”. It’s partly about finding new creative talent to place in […]

YouTube to host ‘Lover’s Lounge’ live event for Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s new album ‘Lover’ drops on 23 August, and she has teamed up with YouTube for a live-streamed event the day before called ‘Lover’s Lounge (Live)’. It’ll see Swift performing a new track from the album, taking part in a Q&A, and plugging her collaboration with Stella McCartney on a new clothing range. At […]

Executive moves: Adam Block and Per Sundin take new roles

The revolving door between major labels and streaming services continues to spin – and it IS a revolving door: UMG’s recent hiring of Spotify’s Mike Biggane as its EVP of music strategies and tactics shows the flow isn’t one-way. Amazon Music announced yesterday that Adam Block is its new global head of music catalogue. It’s […]

Streaming still paying off for UMG with 18.6% revenue growth

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: streaming is paying off rather well for the world’s largest music company. Universal Music’s revenues grew by 18.6% year-on-year for the first half of 2019, according to yesterday’s financial results from its parent company Vivendi. The company’s revenues were €3.26bn (around $3.68bn), with UMG’s recorded-music revenues growing […]

Indies prepare for battle over Vivendi’s UMG sell-off plans

Vivendi appears to be paving the way for its planned sell-off of up to 50% of Universal Music Group to happen in 2020 rather than this year. That’s the gist, at least, of comments made by chairman Yannick Bolloré in an interview with Bloomberg (and reported on by Billboard) maintaining that the plans are proceeding smoothly. […]

Afrobeats star Tiwa Savage signs global deal with UMG

Universal Music wants to build its business in Africa: that’s been clear for some time now. In July 2018 it announced an expansion in French-speaking Africa with a brief to sign up emerging artists there, as well as launching Universal Music Nigeria as a hub for its expansion in western Africa. There too, signings were a key part of […]

UMG licenses to uduX, a new Nigerian music streaming service

Yesterday we reported on music streaming service Boomplay raising $20m to expand across the African continent having signed a licensing deal with Warner Music Group last month. Now uduX, a new streaming service based in Nigeria, has signed its first licensing deal with a major label – Universal Music Group. (UMG was also the first […]

UMG gets a new CIO while Deezer appoints a new COO

In today’s data-rich (some would say data-overloaded) music industry, the role of chief information officer – CIO – is increasingly important for large music companies. So Universal Music Group’s appointment of Dan Morales as its CIO is notable news. He joins from a similar role at eBay. “With Dan as CIO, we are adding an […]

UMG boss on smart speakers: ‘Have the title in the chorus’

We reported yesterday on UMG boss Sir Lucian Grainge’s keynote at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona. Now more details are emerging about what he talked about, including non-mobile devices like smart speakers. Grainge talked about the challenges for labels of a voice-driven world. “Our experience is people can’t ask for a song when […]

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