Universal Music CEO Lucian Grainge issued a letter to UMG employees on Thursday to announce a restructuring of its current operating model.
In the memo obtained by Variety, Grainge writes the move marks “the start of the next powerful wave of [UMG’s] commercial and creative growth and success,” under which Interscope Geffen A&M’s John Janick and Republic’s Monte Lipman will assume greater responsibility over U.S. label operations for UMG.
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More concretely, Janick will provide support to UMG labels Blue Note, Capitol, Geffen, Interscope, Motown, Priority and Verve, while Lipman will do so for Def Jam, Island, Mercury and Republic. Grainge’s letter describes this unification as a move for both execs to “lead a broader part of our US recorded music business,” and “accelerate [their business] strategies and maximize their effect.”
Logistics will be revealed in the coming weeks with “John and Monte making further announcements about structure, resources and next-generation partnerships,” writes Grainge. “Janick will continue to be based in L.A. and Lipman in New York.”
Read Grainge’s complete memo to staff below:
In my New Year’s note to you, I wrote of the many ways UMG is evolving to ensure that we continue our historic success.
One aspect of that evolution will be to design the organizational model and build upon the leadership team for the recorded music business of the future. Today we are taking the year’s first step toward doing so.
I’m proud of the fact that UMG has some of the most effective leaders in the music business. In the U.S., the world’s largest music market, Monte Lipman at Republic and John Janick at Interscope Geffen A&M (IGA) operate the industry’s two most successful label groups.
Year after year, they have been trading places in their battle for No. 1. In 2023, Republic held the top spot and IGA was No. 2. In fact, Republic has been so strong this year and last, that some weeks its individual market share alone exceeds that of other entire major music groups. Meanwhile, IGA has broken more global artists in recent years than any other label and leads the industry in 2024 Grammy nominations in the top categories.
The competition within our own company in signing and developing artists is no accident. It’s by design. By creating a home for a variety of independent and competitive creative centers and the leaders that run them, we increase opportunities for growth and success.
At the same time, our culture never lets our ‘in-house’ competition become destructive; our executives never forget that we are all part of the same UMG team. John and Monte consistently share strategies for success with our labels in the U.S. and around the world, strategies that benefit artists signed to all our labels, not just those on Republic and IGA.
Internally, we are as fiercely cooperative as we are competitive.
John and Monte bring to UMG unique and complementary skills in how they lead their organizations and how they envision positioning them for success in the future. To accelerate those strategies and maximize their effect, today I am appointing Monte and John to lead a broader part of our US recorded music business. Monte will continue to be based in New York and John in LA.
Under this new operating model, Monte and John will support our label heads and help them build best-in-class teams – powered by the industry’s most accomplished and forward-looking people. John will provide our labels including Blue Note, Capitol, Geffen, Interscope, Motown, Priority and Verve with unparalleled support, while Monte will do so for Def Jam, Island, Mercury and Republic.
As our labels continue to maintain their creative A&R and marketing independence, unique identities, and entrepreneurial spirit, they’ll also be provided with access to the talent and resources best able to support their rosters and bring them to new levels of success. It’s a proven model we pioneered on the East Coast several years ago—one that we will accelerate and expand.
As this model takes shape and spurs new creativity, our U.S. recorded music business will continue to outperform and outgrow our competition. Led by the industry’s best creative visionaries – we will cultivate more repertoire sources, we will invest more in new artists and emerging genres, and UMG will become an even more attractive destination for the world’s most gifted artists.
In the coming weeks, John and Monte will be making further announcements about structure, resources and next-generation partnerships. These and other developments will also power some of the other initiatives I outlined in my New Year’s note, including super-fan and audience monetization, state-of-the-art D2C, e-commerce, branding and more.
I am certain that we will look back on today as a pivotal moment in the evolution of UMG, marking the start of the next powerful wave of our commercial and creative growth and success.
The new year is only a month old, but, as I promised, it is already turning out to be an exciting one for our company.
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