Analysis

UMG boss Lucian Grainge: ‘We want to accelerate paid subscription’


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It’s not the most surprising quote you’ll read today, granted, but Universal Music boss Lucian Grainge has re-emphasised his desire for services like Spotify and Beats Music to persuade more people to pay for streaming music.

“We want to accelerate paid subscription,” said Grainge at the Code/Media conference in California. “Ad-funded on-demand is not going to sustain the entire ecosystem of the creators as well as the investors.”

Grainge pointed out that the music industry’s shift isn’t just about moving from downloads to sales. “The whole conversation is obviously about digital music, digital delivery. Moving from ad-funded into premium paid subscription,” he said.

“But it’s quite shocking for us to be aware that in the second and third biggest markets in the world, after the United States, the bulk of the business is still physical CD.” Japan and Germany, of course.

Grainge batted back a question about Apple’s future plans by praising their past efforts. “They’ve done phenomenally well with music, and they ended up with an enormous share of the pie. And they did phenomenally well with everything else they were able to do with it and around it,” he said.

“There’s always been an emotion in Apple around music and around content. You always felt that they had an emotional intelligence around talent. And that’s only going to get better.”

Grainge’s appearance at the conference coincided with the announcement of a deal with shortform online videos startup Vessel, which launched earlier this year. UMG will be debuting “select” videos from its artists on Vessel ahead of their release on Vevo and YouTube, as part of the company’s $2.99-a-month subscription service.

UMG joins WMG as a content partner for Vessel. “We’ll see how they’ll do,” said Grainge at Code/Media. “But if we’re going to transition to premium subscription, it’s a great part of that journey.”

Stuart Dredge

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