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Universal Music Group
Subsidiary of Vivendi
IndustryMusic & entertainment
Founded1934 (as Decca Records USA)
1989 (MCA Music Entertainment Group formed)
1996 (first UMG incarnation from MCA)
1998 (second UMG incarnation from PolyGram)
HeadquartersSanta Monica, California United States
Key people
Lucian Grainge: Chairman & CEO
Zach Horowitz: President & COO
Boyd Muir: CFO
Max Hole: Chief Operating Officer of UMG International
RevenueIncrease$5,584 million (2010)
Increase$175 million (2010)
Number of employees
6,967 (2010)
ParentUniversal (1996–2006)
Vivendi (100%)
DivisionsUniversal Music Publishing Group
Universal Music Group Distribution
Geffen Records
The Island Def Jam Music Group
Universal Republic Records
Universal Music Group Nashville
Verve Music Group
Decca Label Group
Universal Music Latin Entertainment
Universal Music Enterprises
Universal Strategic Marketing
Show Dog-Universal Music
V2/Co-operative Music
Polydor Records
Mercury Music Group
Island Records Group
Universal Music TV
London Records
R.O.A.D Entertainment UK
Twenty-First Artists
Silver Scope

Universal Music Group (UMG) is an American multinational music company. It is the largest of the "big four" record companies by its leading market share and its multitude of global operations. Universal Music Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of French media conglomerate Vivendi.

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

The UMG corporate headquarters are located in Santa Monica, California, United States.


Early history

"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.

Acquisition by Vivendi

With the 2004 acquisition of Vivendi's Vivendi Universal Entertainment by General Electric's NBC, Universal Music Group was entirely separated from Universal Pictures. This is the second time a music company has done so, the first being Time Warner and Warner Music Group completely separating from each other. 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 June 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]

2010s & EMI purchase

Doug Morris stepped 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. Grainge later replaced him as chairman on March 9, 2011.[5] Morris became the next chairman of Sony Music Entertainment on July 1, 2011.[6] With Grainge's appointment as CEO at UMG, Max Hole was promoted to COO of UMGI, effective July 1, 2010.[7] Starting in 2011 UMG's Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records will be signing contestants from American Idol/Idol series. On January 2011, UMG announced it was donating 200,000 master recordings from the 1920s to 1940s to the Library of Congress for preservation.[8]

In March 2011, Barry Weiss became Chairman & CEO of The Island Def Jam Music Group & Universal Republic Records.[9] Both companies are in the process of restructuring under Weiss.[10]

On November 11, 2011 UMG won its bid for EMI's recorded music operations.[11] The purchase is currently awaiting regulatory approval. [12]

In December 2011, David Foster was named Chairman of Verve Music Group.


Multimedia content delivery

Universal Music Group co-developed Vevo, a site designed for music videos inspired by, 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. [13]


Santa Monica

UMG headquarters in Santa Monica, California.

The UMG main global headquarters are located at 2220 Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica. The Santa Monica headquarters oversees all of its legal obligations in the US and Canada such as Human Resources, and any legal issues surrounding the company. Interscope-Geffen-A&M and Verve Music Group are based at their LA headquarters with Jimmy Iovine heading Interscope-Geffen-A&M and David Foster heading Verve. [14] The Island Def Jam Music Group has some offices at the Santa Monica headquarters. The building is also home to Universal Music Enterprises (UME). UMG Chairman & CEO Lucian Grainge works out of the company's Santa Monica headquarters. Universal Music Publishing is headquartered at 2100 Colorado Avenue, which is down the block from UMG's offices. Universal Music Group Distribution is headquartered in nearby Universal City, CA.

New York City

Even though California is where a lot of UMG's corporate decisions are made, UMG has a major workforce in New York which considers it as a secondary headquarters. UMG's New York City headquarters deals mainly with Universal's marketing, Information Systems, and finance. It is also where several of UMG's labels are headquartered. The Island Def Jam Music Group, Universal Republic Records, Decca Label Group, A&M/Octone and the newly re-launched Geffen Records are all based in New York.


Universal Music Group International (UMGI) is headquartered in High Street Kensington, London. UMGI manages UMG's offices in most countries outside of North America.

Other locations

Universal Music Latin Entertainment is headquartered in Miami, Florida while Universal Music Group Nashville is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Universal Music Group's parent company, Vivendi, is headquartered in Paris, France.



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.[15]


In May 2007, UMG was accused of abusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in order to squelch criticism, by forcing YouTube to remove several videos that contain UMG's music in it. This has caused much anger and frustration to many YouTubers. One of the videos UMG took off is a Michelle Malkin video critical of singer Akon.[16][17] Eventually, UMG backed off its claims after being challenged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.[18][19] 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.[20]

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.[21] 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.[22] Imeem is a defunct website and all traffic was deferred to MySpace.


On December 9, 2011, Megaupload published a music video titled: "The Mega Song", showing artists including Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys and endorsing the company.[23] The music video was also uploaded to YouTube, but was removed following a takedown request by UMG. Megaupload said that the video contained no infringing content, commenting: "we have signed agreements with every featured artist for this campaign".[24] Megaupload requested an apology from UMG, and filed a lawsuit against the company in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, on December 12, 2011.[25][26] UMG denied that the takedown was ordered under the terms of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and said that the takedown was "pursuant to the UMG-YouTube agreement," which gives UMG "the right to block or remove user-posted videos through YouTube's CMS (Content Management System) based on a number of contractually specified criteria."[27] The video was subsequently returned to YouTube, with the reasons for the UMG takedown remaining unclear.[28] Lawyers for initially claimed that he had never agreed to the project, but on December 12, he denied any involvement in the takedown notice.[29] On January 19, was taken down by hacker group "Anonymous" following the arrest of Megaupload executives.

See also

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  1. "US Decca LP Labels". Daniels, Frank. 2003. Retrieved 20 March 2008.
  2. Rackmil, Milton R. (August 28, 1954). "Pioneers' Dream Becomes Reality With Decca Family". The Billboard. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  3. Adegoke, Yinka (25 May 2007). "Universal Music closes on BMG". Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 20 November 2008.
  4. "Universal to buy BMG publishing". BBC News. 6 September 2006. Retrieved 25 November 2007.
  5. "Vivendi Appoints Lucian Grainge Chairman & CEO of Universal Music Group". March 9, 2011. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  6. Smith, Ethan (3 March 2011). "Sony Music Recruits CEO". The Wall Street Journal.
  7. "Universal Music Group International promotes Max Hole to Chief Operating Officer". 15 March 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  8. "Pop & Hiss". Los Angeles Times. January 10, 2011.
  9. Halperin, Shirley (March 17, 2011). "Barry Weiss Named Chairman/CEO Of Island Def Jam And Universal Motown Republic Group". Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  10. "Ethiopia Habtemariam Named Senior Vice President of Motown Records". August 10, 2011. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  11. Christman, Ed (November 11, 2011). "EMI Publishing Goes to Sony, Label to Universal". Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  12. Universal Music Group Rivals, Customers Quizzed by EU on EMI
  13. Exclaim News: Universal to Create Hulu-like Music Video Site
  14. "It's Official: David Foster Named Chairman of Verve Music Group". December 15, 2011. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  15. "Universal settles payola probe". USA Today. 11 May 2006. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  16. Malkin, Michelle (May 3, 2007). "Akon's record company abuses DMCA to stifle criticism on YouTube". Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  17. In 2007 music editor trendtraxx was released from the company after false accusations. Press Releases: May, 2007 | Electronic Frontier Foundation
  18. "Universal Music Group Backs Off Claims to Michelle Malkin Video". Electronic Frontier Foundation. May 14, 2007. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  19. Malkin, Michelle (May 14, 2007). "UMG & YouTube retreat over Akon report". Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  20. Lenz v. Universal Music Corp.
  21. [1] (Internet Archive of original link)
  22. Barnett, Megan (December 21, 2007). "Digital Music War Gets Dirtier". Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  23. RIAA Label Artists & A-List Stars Endorse Megaupload In New Song December 9, 2011. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
  24. Universal Censors Megaupload Song, Gets Branded a “Rogue Label” December 10, 2011. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
  25. Megaupload threatens to sue Universal over YouTube video The Guardian, December 13, 2011. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
  26. Megaupload to Sue Universal, Joins Fight Against SOPA December 12, 2011. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
  27. UMG claims "right to block or remove" YouTube videos it doesn't own Ars Technica, December 16, 2011. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  28. File-Sharing Company Sues Record Label, for a Change New York Times, December 13, 2011. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  29. UMG, MegaUpload Case Gets Even Stranger; Says He Didn't Authorize A Takedown Techdirt. December 15, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011.

External links

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