Digital Music Pioneer Rob Wells Exits Universal Music Without Warning
As Universal Music’s President Of Global Digital Business, Rob Wells was one of digital musics' most visible figures. Wells has been at Universal for more than 15 years – before iTunes and Spotify; but not before Napster had triggered the move to digital and the decline of the recording music industry. More than any other single figure, Wells helped shepherd UMG into the digital age; often as a leader, rather than as a follower.
Wells resignation appeared to come without warning and with no announcement of future plans. Here is the full text of his letter to UMG staff:
With a heavy heart but an incredible sense of accomplishment and pride, I write you today to tell you that I have decided to leave my position and to explain why.
When I started working with Lucian more than 14 years ago, neither of us could have imagined the digital possibilities in store for our business.
Apple wouldn't launch the iTunes Store for several years to come — and YouTube, Pandora, Vevo and Spotify weren't even ideas on a white board.
Together, we helped build Universal Music Group's digital business from its infancy into a global leader. At every turn, we pushed the industry forward, making sure our business model adapted to the way that consumers wanted to listen to music while insuring that our artists shared in all the new revenue streams.
Today, music from our incredible roster of artists is available for download at hundreds of online stores. Listeners can access tracks globally at dozens of music streaming services. Or they can watch the latest music videos from their favorite artist on Vevo and other sites.
There are more ways to listen to music today than at any time in the long history of the industry — and I feel incredibly proud of our role in that accomplishment.
Just as we couldn't imagine the extent of digital opportunities that lay ahead of us all those years ago, that is a fraction of the possibilities that await over the next 15 years.
I am so grateful to Lucian for allowing me this opportunity. Universal Music Group has the best team in the business and a second-to-none artist roster. The company is poised for an incredibly bright future and I look forward to seeing where all of you lead the industry.
While leaving isn't easy, I take comfort in the extraordinary digital team that I am leaving behind — who have become more than just work colleagues but a true family — and the knowledge that whatever entrepreneurial opportunity I explore next, I will always have a close relationship with everyone at Universal Music Group, both here in the US and in every territory around the world.
Someone once told me that when you leave a senior role, you leave the power behind. I accept that, but what you take with you in fond memories, accomplishments and lasting friendships is where the real power lies. UMG under Lucian's leadership has always been and will always be an incredible company, which allows people to develop those memories, foster those accomplishments and nurture those friendships.
It has been a pleasure to work with you all and I am so proud of what we've achieved together.
Enjoy the ride!