UMG chief Grainge under fire for earning more than all UK songwriters combined
UK politicians and songwriter advocates are taking aim at Universal Music Group head Lucien Grainge for the size of his 2021 compensation particularly when compared to funds received by the songwriters that help fuel UMG’s profits.
Grainge’s $200 million-plus paycheck in 2021 will include an estimated one-time cash bonus of $166 million after UMG’s successful stock market flotation and sale of a 10% stake to China’s Tencent. That’s in addition to Grainge’s regular yearly compensation which hovers around $42.1 million, according to Billboard.
$200 million USD is also what the UK’s official Intellectual Property Office calculated that all UK composers and lyricists combines earned in 2019 from streaming and sales.
The critical comparison to Grainge’s salary comes at a time when songwriters and music publishers in the UK and globally are fighting for a larger share of streaming revenue.
“Shocking” and “out of control”
“It’s shocking that record label owners are earning more out of artists’ works than the artists themselves,” Conservative MP Esther McVay told The Guardian. “We’ve got to put this right, to fix streaming so that it pays more like radio and get back to the notion of fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”
The UK Musicians Union and Crispin Hunt, chair of the Ivors Academy, also weighed in: “This is evidence of a business which is completely out of control. For songwriters who are struggling to make a living, there’s only one word for it – obscene.”
Bruce Houghton is Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.