Universal Music Group names successor to CEO Doug Morris


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The head of Universal Music Group’s international operations has been named chief executive of the world’s largest music company, succeeding Doug Morris.

Lucian Grainge, Morris’ hand-picked successor, will take over as CEO on Jan. 1, 2011, sharing responsibility with Morris until that time. The 71-year-old Morris, who has headed Universal Music since 1995, announced his plans to step down in November. He will remain chairman of the label.


Grainge, 49, for the last five years has 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, finding and developing new artists. He assumes the reins of Universal Music Group at a time when music piracy continues to erode sales. The label, home to Lady GaGa, U2 and Rihanna, 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.

[Updated at 9:01 a.m.: Grainge said he has seen some success globally with emerging services like Spotify, the Swedish firm that offers on-demand music streaming, in both free and premium services. Nokia’s ‘Comes With Music’ offering, which gives customers who buy a Nokia mobile phone a year’s worth of unlimited access to songs on the device, has done very well in certain markets, he 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,’ Grainge said.]

Jean-Bernard Levy, chairman of the Vivendi management board, lauded Grainge’s willingness to take risks and experiment with new ways of getting music to consumers.

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

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski