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Universal Music Group
Type Subsidiary of Vivendi
Founded 1934 (as Decca Records USA)
1990 (MCA Music Entertainment Group formed)
1996 (first UMG incarnation)
1998 (second UMG incarnation)
Headquarters New York City, NY, United States
Key people Doug Morris: Chairman and CEO
Lucian Grainge: Chairman and CEO (Universal Music International)
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 Universal Music

Universal Music Group (UMG) is the largest business group and family 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.

Vivendi Entertainment is a division of Universal Music Group Distribution.



"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] 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 acquistion 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.[2][3]

CEO Doug Morris is planning on stepping down from his position in the summer of 2010. UMG Is expected to promote its Chairman/CEO of Universal Music International Lucian Grainge to CEO of the company next year. Morris, who turned 71 in December 2009, is not expected to retire and will likely retain his title as chairman of UMG and remains a member of Vivendi's management board.



Multimedia content delivery

Universal Music Group has announced the development of an online web site for music videos inspired by, which similarly, will allow for free, ad-supported streaming of music videos and other music content.[4] The new music site will be called Vevo.




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.[5]


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.[6][7] Eventually, UMG backed off its claims after being challenged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.[8][9] 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.[10] Recently, UMG has been accused of abusing its power by removing numerous non-profit tribute videos and instrumental covers created by users who use or play songs of bands signed to UMG's labels as well as removing videos of artist not even under their label. It was the first channel on Youtube to get 1 billion video views. On October 24, 2009, Universal Music Group reached 1,000,000 subscribers; the fourth channel on YouTube to attain that milestone.

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.

In December 2007, Colbie Caillat inadvertently announced that The Universal Music Group recently enacted a new policy on that will reduce all songs from artists within The Universal Music Group to 90 seconds. [11]

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.[12] 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.[13]

See also


External links

Simple English

Universal Music Group is a company that runs four record labels in the music industry. It started in 1934 as "Decca Records USA" and had some other names, before it became "Universal Music Group" in 1996. The company is based in Santa Monica, California.[1][2]

History of the company

"Universal Music" was once the music company for the movie studio Universal Pictures. MCA Inc. bought American Decca in 1962. Seagram, the owner of MCA, would buy PolyGram in 1998 to form Universal Music Group (which had been MCA before 1996).

The branches of "UMG" would count Interscope Records, A&M Records, Geffen Records, Island Records and Def Jam.

In 2007, Universal bought BMG's music publishing branch and folded it into the "Universal Music Publishing" division.


  1. "History". Universal Music Group. Retrieved 2008-07-03. 
  2. "Universal Music Group". Retrieved 2008-07-03. 


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