One of the most respected digital music executives in the business, Francis Keeling, is leaving Universal Music Group after 14 years.
MBW sources have confirmed that the British exec, UMG’s Global Head of Digital Business, is exiting the company little over a year after Universal parted ways with his former boss, Rob Wells.
Other execs who were constituents of Wells’s digital team that have now departed UMG include David Ring, Russel Coultart and Amanda Marks.
The ultimate replacement for Wells was Michael Nash, who joined UMG from Warner as EVP of Digital Strategy in October.
Keeling climbed the ranks at UMG after becoming Head Of Commercial, Digital at Universal Music UK in 2002.
In 2009, he stepped up to Vice President, Digital, at Universal Music Group International (UMGI) – the London-based division of Universal which has recently undergone a major restructure.
Three years later, Keeling was promoted again, still reporting into Wells, to Head of Global Digital Business.
Rob Wells, speaking in 2012
At the time, Wells – who has since moved on to startup Crowdmix – said: “Francis is by far the best at what he does in the entire global music industry. He is expert at finding the commercial viability in any new business model or in an existing model that needs to be finessed.
“He troubleshoots like a true entrepreneur, is a joy to work with, and continues to impress and inspire people who work alongside him.”
Prior to UMG, Keeling held content and biz dev posts with the likes of Vivendi, Launch.com, Pearson and the Financial Times.
He is believed to be leaving UMG next week, but this remains unverified.
Keeling negotiated with the likes of Apple, Amazon, Spotify, SoundCloud and Google during his time at UMG.
MBW has asked Universal for comment.Music Business Worldwide