Clay Aiken – New Boss

Since Clay Aiken signed with Decca/Universal Music Group, it has been interesting to watch the changes and growth the UMG has gone through in the last 6 months.

On January 11, 2010, Lucian Grainge was named chief executive of the largest music company in the world.  Mr. Grainge has been the head of International Operations for UMG.

Lucian Grainge was hand-picked by Doug Morris and will take over as CEO on Jan. 1, 2011.  Until that time, he will share responsibility with Morris.  Morris, who is 71, has headed Universal Music since 1995.  He will remain chairman of the label.

The 49 year old Grainge has, for 5 years, run the international group, where he has helped grow the label’s market share and introduced new acts. He started his music career in 1997 with CBS/April Music where his job was to find and develop new artists. He assumes the reins of Universal Music Group at a time when music piracy continues to erode sales. The label saw a 5% revenue decline in the nine months that ended in September.

Universal Music has attempted to develop new digital revenue streams through ventures such as its new, ad-supported Vevo online music video service developed with the help of Google Inc.’s YouTube.

Grainge said he has seen some success globally with emerging services like Spotify, the Swedish firm that offers on-demand music streaming, and Nokia’s “Comes With Music” which gives customers who buy a Nokia mobile phone a year’s worth of unlimited access to songs on the device.

Grainge said:

“I’d like us to continue to build those relationships and build the ability for us to do business with different businesses, using the music and the artists and the brand of the artists to get the music sexily and legitimately to as many people as we can.”

Vivendi, the French owners of UMG said that they were pleased to see a young executive who was willing to take risks and experiment with new ways of getting music to all consumers.

Jean-Bernard Levy, chairman of the Vivendi management board, said:

“His track record speaks for itself, finding stars, growing revenues and building new business models. He has the right combination of experience and innovation to take UMG forward as the migration into the digital era accelerates.”

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