'Music is the past, present & future of all our lives': Your guide to top execs' end-of-year messages

Lyor Cohen

It’s the season for wise men bearing gifts – and the music industry’s top bosses don’t disappoint with their end of year addresses.

It’s become a festive tradition for some of the biz’s leading movers and shakers to share their thoughts with colleagues ahead of the Christmas and New Year break – and this year, Universal’s Sir Lucian Grainge, Sony Music’s Rob Stringer and YouTube’s Lyor Cohen (pictured), whose messages have been obtained by Music Week, have all come through with the goods.

After Universal’s record-breaking year, it’s no surprise to see Sir Lucian note that “no other music company has ever come close to matching what we achieved this year”.

“You have made 2019 an astonishing year for UMG, another one that will go down in history,” he adds, listing achievements by many Universal stars, from Taylor Swift to Post Malone and Billie Eilish. “Never before have our artists and labels attained such worldwide success.”

Sir Lucian pledges to continue the surge next year, promising use of “every conceivable form of media”, investment in technology and expanding international operations as key to continued success.

“As we’ve seen countless times, the universal nature of music can bring people together,” he concludes. “In a world that may too often seem nonsensical, music makes sense. We’re lucky to be a part of a company grounded on such a vital, joyous and indispensable aspect of our humanity.”

Sony’s Stringer, meanwhile, also had plenty to talk about after a year of positive change at the company.

“The creation of the Sony Music Group with the collective power of our world class recorded music and music publishing companies has enabled us to share new growth and coordination opportunities whilst maintaining the unique identity of each company,” he says. “The exciting arrival of Jon Platt to head our global publishing division has also strengthened our wider company.”

Stringer notes the achievements of Sony stars from Lil Nas X to Mariah Carey, and highlights deals with the likes of Rihanna, Barbra Streisand and Kygo, as well as the emergence of long-awaited synergies across Sony Corp’s different divisions.

“The concept of One Sony is no longer just an idea,” he says. “We make television programmes together with our sister Sony TV division such as the recent Brad Paisley TV special. We make exclusive musical content for our partner PlayStation's games such as Death Stranding. We co-sponsored Pharrell's innovative music festival in Virginia with all our Sony partner companies. These types of partnerships will only grow in the future.

“We must continue to strive to be not only bigger but, more importantly, better in all aspects of our business strategy so we are primed for sustainable success over the next decade and beyond,” he finishes with a flourish. “With your collective talent and hard work we are building a creative entertainment company of the future and giving our artists, songwriters and creators the partnerships to thrive in this evolving industry.”

And not to be outdone, Lyor Cohen’s final YouTube newsletter of the year looks back at the decade, praises artists from Billie Eilish to Lizzo and notes the importance of music in troubled times.

“Music is stronger than the things that divide us, and in this era—of Republicans, Democrats, Brexit stayers, and leavers—music is one of the last great unifiers,” he says.

Of course, there are YouTube successes to talk about as well, and Cohen notes that YouTube streams will count towards the US album chart from next year.

“I’m deeply thankful to everyone who made this possible and we have so much to be proud of here, like the growth of our subscription business,” he says. “I am wowed by our growing footprint in India. Our competition launched there before us, but it’s clear that India, like Indonesia and many other global markets, is a YouTube-first market.

“Music is the past, present, and future of all of our lives, and at YouTube, we take very seriously our responsibility as the biggest and best platform on the planet to bring you that music,” he concludes. “It’s what we do—and we’re proud to do it. At the dawn of this new decade, it’s exciting to wonder, what will be the next song, the one we haven’t heard yet, that will define the 2020s? One can only dream.”

And dream we will. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

* To read Music Week’s festive address, see the special Christmas edition of Music Week, available now, or click here. To subscribe to Music Week and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

PHOTO: Paul Harries

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