The CEO of Universal Music earned more in 2021 than all the sales and streams of UK songwriters combined

Image Credit: Universal Music Group

UMG boss Lucian Grainge is due a $201 million payday – more than the total income of all UK songwriters and composers put together.

A $65 million bonus will push Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grange’s 2021 income up to $201 million. That’s more than the estimated combined 2019 streams, sales and downloads of all the songwriters in the UK.

Whilst a large net worth seems reasonable for the CEO of one of the biggest music conglomerates on the planet – one that was making a million dollars an hour in the first quarter of this year – the giant bonus feels like a further insult.

The Guardian pointed out that Grainge’s bonus comes from Universal Music’s 2021 IPO as well as Tencent buying a 10% stake in the company. Campaigners would like to see at least some of that windfall to trickle down to the songwriters and artists whose music keeps the industry running.

The unimpressed online response is aggravated by the current focus on streaming incomes in the UK, with a study into the competitive market on the way and a government inquiry demanding a “complete reset” of a sector that hasn’t modernised since the age of streaming arrived.

Last year as part of the UK streaming inquiry pop songwriter Fiona Bevan said she’d earned only £100 from writing a song for a 2020 Number 1 album. Whilst hailing the opportunities that the accessibility of streaming offers, Bevan called for an urgent need for the levelling out of the way revenue from a song is divided up.

Ivors Academy and others suggest people in the UK should write to their MP asking for them to support a Private Members Bill from Kevin Brennan MP, which asks for more protections for musicians against unfair payments.


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I write about music for RouteNote, sharing fun stuff, news, and tips and tricks for musicians and producers. Also a saxophonist and hater of marmalade.

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