Doug Morris


Doug Morris is a veteran music executive.

He was Chairman of independnet label 12 Tone, which was acquired by Warner Music Group for an undisclosed fee in 2021.

He is known for being the only music exec to head up all three major label groups across his career.

Doug Morris: Career Beginnings

After graduating from Columbia University, Doug Morris’ music career began as a songwriter for music publisher Robert Mellin, writing the Chiffons’ hit Sweet Talkin’ Guy and producing records including Brownsville Station’s 1970s hit Smokin’ in the Boys Room. Morris also worked for Laurie Records as a writer and producer in the 1960s, eventually rising to Vice President and General Manager.

Morris launched his own label, Big Tree Records, which acquired by Atlantic Records in 1978, bringing him into the Warner Music family, initially as President of Atco Records. In 1980, he was named President of Atlantic Records, eventually rising to Co-Chairman and Co-CEO alongside Ahmet Ertegun in 1990.

Morris was promoted to President and Chief Operating Officer of Warner Music US in 1994 and was named Chairman shortly after, but left after a year.

Doug Morris: The Universal and Sony years

In 1995, Doug Morris formed a joint venture, Rising Tide Entertainment, with MCA Music Entertainment Group. He was appointed Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group in November 1995, and the joint venture became wholly owned by Universal Music Group and was re-named Universal Records. Morris went on to lead Universal in its acquisition of PolyGram in 1998, making it the biggest label group.

In 2009, Morris was one of the Co-Founders to launch music video platform Vevo.

Morris spent 14 years as Chairman and CEO of the Universal Music Group, before joining Sony Music Entertainment as CEO in 2011. In 2017, he moved from CEO to Chairman as Rob Stringer succeeded him.

Morris launched his new venture, 12 Tone, in 2018, with Anderson.Paak the label’s first signing.

Doug Morris: Professional philosophy

In 2015, Dough Morris took part in a rare Q&A at Midem. Discussing his long career, he also shared his advice on running a company:  “It may sound square, but my whole philosophy of running a company can be put in two words: Be nice.

“Treat people with respect. Make the people working for you feel great, make them know you appreciate what they do.

“I remember when I was coming up people would degrade you, make you feel bad, send you home at night worried about your job.

“There was one guy who used to say, ‘I want to see you on Monday, I have something to talk to you about,’ and you knew it was something bad and you worried about it all weekend. Those are cruel people and I don’t like to be involved with them.

“Our companies are based on mutual respect and loyalty to each other. And that works — when you really mean it, the people who work with you know it, and when they do something special you pay them a little extra.

“People going out that door at night are your most important asset. That’s the culture I believe in.

“I hate screamers, I hate people who abuse other people. At our companies — the ones I’ve been in charge of – that’s not tolerated.”

Doug Morris at midem 2015

Music Business Worldwide

Doug Morris In The News

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