Universal Music Group has taken a 49% stake in indie giant PIAS.
The announcement, which sees UMG acquiring a 49% shareholding in PIAS, follows the formation of the “unconventional” strategic global alliance between the two companies in June 2021.
Under the new agreement, PIAS will remain “fully independent”, according to a statement, and its founders Kenny Gates and Michel Lambot will retain majority control of the company. UMG will have no seats on the company’s board.
The companies have a recent history of collaboration, but the news that UMG has invested in the indie giant will still be a bombshell today for the independent label sector.
The indies have previously raised concerns about major label acquisitions such as AWAL and the market power of the big three - although the Competition & Markets Authority has this week found no issues around the levels of concentration in the UK market.
Michel Lambot, co-founder of PIAS, said: “We have enjoyed an excellent relationship with the Universal Music Group team since we announced our strategic global alliance with them last year. Kenny and I are celebrating our company’s 40th anniversary this year and we are still as ambitious as we were when we started out about growing our global presence and providing a world class service to the independent music community.”
This move makes us stronger and secures the future of our brand, our staff and our partners while maintaining control of our destiny
Kenny Gates, co-founder and CEO of PIAS, said: “These days we are competing with finance and tech giants and a partner like Universal Music Group provides the additional support for us to compete and grow. Universal made it clear that they like us, they trust us and they need us, because they can’t do what we do and they value it highly.
“For Michel and I, this is our life’s work and an ongoing journey and I am excited about the prospect of this new chapter in the life of PIAS. This move makes us stronger and secures the future of our brand, our staff and our partners while maintaining control of our destiny.”
Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman & CEO, Universal Music Group, said: “The boldly independent and music-centric culture that Kenny and Michel have built over the last four decades has provided a vital creative network to so many artists. While much of the past was focused on ‘majors versus indies,’ it’s clear that today, the important divide in our industry is about those committed to artist development versus those committed to quantity over quality.
“We share Kenny and Michel’s passion for developing artists and moving culture, and we recognize that a healthy music ecosystem needs companies like PIAS who are committed to amplifying the best voices in independent music.”
PHOTO: (L-R) Kenny Gates and Michel Lambot