Universal Music

Universal Music Group

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Universal Music Group
Type Subsidiary of Vivendi
Founded 1934 (as Decca Records USA)
1989 (MCA Music Entertainment Group formed)
1996 (first UMG incarnation)
1998 (second UMG incarnation)
Headquarters New York City, NY, United States
Key people Lucian Grainge: CEO
Doug Morris: Chairman
Industry Music & Entertainment
Revenue $6.14 billion (2007)
Parent Universal (1996-2006)
Vivendi (100%)
Subsidiaries Universal Music Publishing Group
Universal Music Group Distribution
Island Def Jam Music Group
Universal Motown Republic Group
Universal Music Group Nashville
Verve Music Group
Decca Label Group
Universal Music Latin Entertainment
Universal Music Enterprises
Show Dog-Universal Music
Fontana Distribution
V2/Co-operative Music
Polydor Records
Mercury Music Group
Island Records Group
Universal Music TV
Universal Classics and Jazz
Website universalmusic.com

Universal Music Group (UMG) is the largest group of record labels in the recording industry. It is the largest of the "big four" record companies by its commanding market share and its multitude of global operations. Universal Music Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of international French media conglomerate Vivendi.

Universal Music Group owns a music publisher, Universal Music Publishing Group, which became the world's largest following the acquisition of BMG Music Publishing in May 2007.

Vivendi's headquarters are in Paris, France. The UMG global headquarters are located New York City. Other major offices are located in Universal City and Santa Monica, along with Universal Music Group Nashville in Nashville; in the UK the group has a number of offices in London and Romford, and in Japan the group has a office in Minato, Tokyo.


"Universal Music" was once the music company attached to film studio Universal Pictures. Its origins go back to the formation of the American branch of Decca Records in 1934.[1] The Decca Corporation of England spun American Decca off in 1939.[2] MCA Inc. bought American Decca in 1962. The present organization was formed when its parent company Seagram purchased PolyGram and merged it with Universal Music Group in 1998. However, the name first appeared in 1996 when MCA Music Entertainment Group was renamed Universal Music Group. The PolyGram acquisition included Deutsche Grammophon which traces its ancestry to Berliner Gramophone making Deutsche Grammophon UMG's oldest unit. UMG's Canadian unit traces its ancestry to a Berliner Gramophone breakaway firm the Compo Company.

With the 2004 acquisition of Vivendi's Vivendi Universal Entertainment by General Electric's NBC, Universal Music Group was separated entirely from its film studio namesake for the first time.

In February 2006, the group became 100% owned by French media conglomerate Vivendi SA when Vivendi purchased the last 20% from Matsushita, the group's sole owner from 1990 to 1995 and co-owner from 1995 to 2006.

On May 25, 2007, Vivendi completed its 1.63 billion ($2.4 billion) purchase of BMG Music Publishing, after receiving European Union regulatory approval, having announced the acquisition on September 6, 2006.[3][4]

CEO Doug Morris announced that he would step down from his position as CEO on January 1, 2011. Former Chairman/CEO of Universal Music International Lucian Grainge was promoted to CEO of the company. Morris has retained his title as chairman of UMG and remains a member of Vivendi's management board. There are rumors however that say that Morris may be the next chairman of Sony Music Entertainment[5]

Starting in 2011 UMG's Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records will be signing contestants from American Idol.

On January 2011, UMG announced it was donating 200,000 master recordings from the 1920s to 1940s to the Library of Congress for preservation.[6]



Multimedia content delivery

Universal Music Group co-developed Vevo, a site designed for music videos inspired by Hulu.com, which similarly, will allow for free, ad-supported streaming of music videos and other music content. The music videos are shown in better quality than the original ones on Youtube. [7]



In May 2006, an investigation led by then New York attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, concluded with a determination that Universal Music Group bribed radio stations to play songs from Ashlee Simpson, Brian McKnight, Big Tymers, Nick Lachey, Lindsay Lohan and other performers under Universal labels. The company paid $12 million to the state in settlement.[8]


In May 2007, UMG was accused of abusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in order to squelch criticism, by forcing YouTube to remove a Michelle Malkin video critical of singer Akon.[9][10] Eventually, UMG backed off its claims after being challenged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.[11][12] In the same year, UMG was accused of using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to indiscriminately remove content related to the artist Prince, most notably a twenty-nine second home video in which children danced to one of Prince's songs.[13]

YouTube is also used for A&R scouts of major labels such as (UMG) scout artist to sign. There has been criticism and labels have come under fire in regards to labels using YouTube to scout Talent. This can start label wars when different labels are pitching for the same artist or band.

Universal's Music Group channel was the first to get 1 billion views. It also got 1 million subscribers, the 4th channel to receive that number.

In certain countries (like Germany), UMG forbids YouTube to deliver videos containing works from its artists.

In most certain UMG music videos that the YouTube users had uploaded after Vevo, UMG blocks music videos worldwide containing work from its artists.


In December 2007 UMG announced a deal with Imeem which allows users of the social network to listen to any track from Universal's catalogue for free with a portion of the advertising generated by the music being shared with the record label.[14] Two weeks after the deal was announced Michael Robertson speculated on the secret terms of the deal and argued that ultimately this was a bad deal for imeem. This speculation lead to a flame war on the Pho digital media email list as imeem representatives denied his claims and dismissed his theories as unfounded.[15] Imeem is a defunct website and all traffic was deferred to MySpace.

See also

  • List of RIAA member labels
  • List of record labels


  1. US Decca LP Labels. HeroInc.0Catch.com. Daniels, Frank (2003). Retrieved on 20 November 2008.
  2. Foresight, Hard Work Raise Decca Baby thru Trying Tines into a Giant
  3. Adegoke, Yinka (25 May 2007). Universal Music closes on BMG. Reuters.com. Thomson Reuters. Retrieved on 20 November 2008.
  4. Universal to buy BMG publishing. News.BBC.co.uk. BBC News (6 September 2006). Retrieved on 20 November 2008.
  5. Doug Morris in Talks with Sony Music; Nothing Signed billboard.biz
  6. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/music_blog/2011/01/universal-music-library-of-congress-bing-crosby-ella-fitzgerald.html
  7. Exclaim News: Universal to Create Hulu-like Music Video Site
  8. Garrity, Brian (11 May 2006). UMG Settles With Spitzer. Billboard.biz. MediaWeek. Retrieved on 20 November 2008.
  9. Michelle Malkin » Akon’s record company abuses DMCA to stifle criticism on YouTube
  10. Press Releases: May, 2007 | Electronic Frontier Foundation
  11. Press Releases: May, 2007 | Electronic Frontier Foundation
  12. Michelle Malkin » UMG & YouTube retreat over Akon report
  13. Lenz v. Universal Music Corp.
  14. [1] (Internet Archive of original link)
  15. Digital Music War Gets Dirtier - News Blog - Daily Brief - Portfolio.com

External links

  • Official commercial site
  • Official corporate site
  • UMG History page
  • Universal Music Group at YouTube
  • Vivendi Entertainment
  • Universal Music Group Career Opportunities listed on EntertainmentCareers.Net

This page was last modified 16.02.2011 20:34:26

This article uses material from the article Universal Music Group from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.