It’s been one of the biggest talking points of the global music industry this year: what were the circumstances which led Pascal Nègre to leave Universal Music France?
The veteran exec first gained a place on the Universal family tree when he joined Polygram in 1990 – 26 years ago – and he started heading up UMG in France in 1998.
Yet he suddenly departed Universal in February, being simultaneously replaced by Olivier Nusse.
Nègre has just been unveiled as a new regular DJ on French radio station RFM, hosting an hour-long slot every Saturday and Sunday.
As a result of the announcement, he spoke to Teleobs about his new gig… and his controversial exit from UMG.
In the interview, Nègre points out that UMG held a 45% market share in France when he left – the largest, he believes, “ever seen” for a label group in Europe.
“I was not fired. My contract was not renewed.”
So with all that success under his watch, why was he kicked out?
Well, he wasn’t – technically.
“I was not fired,” he clarified, adding “my contract was not renewed.”
He continued: “This proves that sometimes the [fate] of a President does not depend on the results of his company. You could say I was Bollorévoqué.”
Okay – that last bit requires some explanation.
It’s never good to explain someone’s play on words, especially when you’ve just translated it, but this time it’s important, so don’t hold it against us.
Révoquer in French means to revoke. Vincent Bolloré is the biggest shareholder in Vivendi and, as such, the closest thing the organisation (and Lucian Grainge) has to a single boss.
It appears that Nègre was therefore ‘revoked’ by Bolloré – ie. rejected.
In other words, it sounds like a safe bet that things got personal.
“This proves that sometimes the [fate] of a president does not depend on the results of his company.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Negre said UMG’s ability to break artists last year including The Avener, Benjamin Clementine and Gradur is what “I’m most proud of today”.
He added: “This proved our alertness, our ability to develop talent, which, in my opinion, is the first quality of a record company.”
* All quotes from translated from French to English.Music Business Worldwide