David Joseph

Chairman & CEO, Universal Music UK

David Joseph, Chairman and CEO, Universal Music UK

David Joseph’s career didn’t start in music, but it’s been defined by it. In 1991 – seventeen years before Joseph became one of the most successful leaders of the global music industry as CEO & Chairman of Universal Music UK – he graduated from the London School of Economics.

From there, Joseph began working at a London advertising agency (on a salary of less than £7,000 a year), where he won an award for a Channel 4 ad campaign for Deafness Awareness Week. Soon after, Joseph took on video games giant Sega as a key client. The house of Sonic then took Joseph in-house as one of its first UK employees.

Having relied heavily on collaborations with the music industry, Joseph was poached by the then head of RCA UK, Hugh Goldsmith, and quickly found his feet in both music marketing and artist development.

“All of a sudden I was working in a business where I loved everything about it,” Joseph had said of his arrival at RCA.

Joseph has led Universal Music UK as Chairman & CEO since March 2008.

In this position, Joseph has spearheaded a company whose labels have broken global stars such as Sam Smith, Mumford & Sons, Amy Winehouse, Lewis Capaldi, and many more.

David Joseph career: Polydor and Universal Music UK

David Joseph was named Chairman & CEO of Universal Music UK nearly ten years after he initially joined Universal as General Manager of Polydor in August 1998.

At Polydor, Joseph enjoyed success with artists such as Scissor Sisters, Ian Brown, Elbow, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Snow Patrol and Girls Aloud – as well as US superstars such as Eminem and Dr Dre.

“Our labels shouldn’t feel they have to apologise or self-justify the value they bring. We creatively empower our artists globally: I buy into that and I’m proud of it.”

David Joseph, Universal Music UK

Joseph was promoted to co-President of Polydor alongside Colin Barlow, with duo orchestrating a multi-platinum comeback for Take That in 2006.

Two years later, Joseph was named Chairman & CEO of Universal Music UK, reporting to Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman & CEO of the global Universal Music Group.

Before taking the Polydor job, Joseph was head of artist development at RCA in the UK, a Sony Music label.

There, he worked with artists including Take That, Kylie Minogue and Annie Lennox.

Universal Music UK is home to labels such as Capitol, Decca, 0207 Def Jam, Island, Polydor and EMI Records, in addition to Abbey Road Studios.

David Joseph: Professional philosophy

In a 2018 interview with Music Business Worldwide, Joseph said: “We employ about 650 people here [at Universal Music UK], and I know that every day they are thinking, worrying, second-guessing, perfecting, investing, challenging and empowering artists – and to me, that has to come with a value. If it doesn’t, we’re under-selling ourselves, and we’re under-selling decades of instinct, experience and navigation.

“Our labels shouldn’t feel they have to apologise or self-justify the value they bring. We creatively empower our artists globally: I buy into that and I’m proud of it.”

David Joseph: Additional achievements

In addition to his Universal role, Joseph is executive producer of Amy, the 2015 documentary about Amy Winehouse directed by Asif Kapadia.

Joseph has been a member of the BPI Council since 2005. For three years from 2010 he was Chairman of the BPI’s Brits Committee, overseeing a well-received overhaul of the Brit Awards in 2011.

In August 2013 Joseph was appointed a member of the council of Arts Council England.

In the same year he worked with Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, to gather music industry support for Unity, the O2 concert marking the 20th anniversary of Stephen Lawrence’s murder.Music Business Worldwide

David Joseph In The News

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