Universal Music chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge has moved to reassure EMI staff that they won’t see any painful disruption in the coming weeks – and encouraged them to celebrate the end of a decade of rumour and uncertainty.
Speaking after EMI CEO Roger Faxon informed employees that he will be stepping down next Friday, a bullish Grainge told Music Week how he plans to build EMI back to full strength.
“I’ve always refused to accept the declines in this industry,” he said. “The nit-picking, the budget cuts, the reductions in this and that… It’s not how I run UMG, and it’s not how I’m going to run EMI.”
Universal’s £1.2bn bid for EMI Music was cleared by regulators in the EC and US earlier today. The major must now sell assets including Parlophone to a competitor - but it gets to keep The Beatles and Beach Boys catalogues.
Said Grainge: “I hope the stakeholders in EMI that now have stability and a strong owner from the music industry – that’s the staff, the A&R, the marketing, the press, the promotions, the artists and the entire ecosystems around those artists – will be thrilled and rejoice in this really historic moment for the music industry.”
He said such an attitude would be “opposed to a group of people that are looking, as far as I’m concerned, backwards” – a thinly veiled criticism of those businesses, trade bodies and executives who have fought tooth and nail against the UMG/EMI acquisition.
Grainge added: “I’m only focused on UMG and EMI, and I’m incredibly excited. EMI has been the subject of various discussions and rumours for 10 or 12 years. It’s over. We believe in it. We’re going to cuddle them [EMI artists/stakeholders] and do the best that we can to build that business back to strength for them, as well as for UMG.”
When asked if he had a specific message for EMI staff in the UK office, Grainge said: “Nothing changes, and nothing will change over this next period…. It’s business as usual.”
Meanwhile, Grainge has reiterated his plan to find annual cost savings from EMI of £100m a year.
Faxon told staff earlier that Universal will ‘take control’ of EMI on the day he stands down (September 28) after 18 years at the major.
He revealed that those employees working in parts of the business set to be divested – such as Parlophone – will be ‘brought together as a separate unit, managed independent of Universal’ on that date, by a temporary manager selected by Grainge.
Meanwhile, EMI divisions which fall into the majority of the major which has been bought by UMG – such as centralised staff, as well as those working for Virgin Records and Capitol in the US – will begin reporting into their new owners next Friday.
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