Why Sir Lucian Grainge got paid what he got paid in 2021 (and why it’s okay to be jealous of it)

Welcome to the latest episode of Talking Trends, the weekly podcast from Music Business Worldwide – where we go deep behind the headlines of news stories affecting the entertainment industry. Talking Trends is supported by Voly Music.

This week on Talking Trends, MBW founder, Tim Ingham, discusses the stunning amount of money paid to Universal Music Group boss, Sir Lucian Grainge, in 2021

Ingham calculates that Grainge pulled in around $45 million in basic salary plus annual bonuses in 2021, in addition to a nine-figure one-time payment related to Universal’s flotation on the Amsterdam stock exchange in September.

Grainge’s astronomical payday in 2021 has agitated some sections of the music industry, but Ingham argues why – from a Universal shareholder perspective – the British exec was “worth every penny” of the huge one-time payout he received.

MBW’s podcasts are supported by Voly Music. Voly’s platform enables music industry professionals from all sectors to manage a tour’s budgets, forecasts, track expenses, approve invoices and make payments 24/7, 365 days a year. For more information and to sign up to a free trial of the platform, visit VolyMusic.com.

Much of this week’s episode focuses on this Guardian article from November 2021, and why Ingham thinks it’s problematic to compare the one-time payments of a public company CEO/Chairman to the annual cumulative royalties of UK songwriters in 2019.

Says Ingham: “You can level a fair ‘right time right place’ argument at any success business leader – and there’s good one to be made at Grainge, because he ran a music rights company while the likes of Daniel Ek ploughed money into ensuring that music streaming subscriptions became second nature to the consumer.

“But you cannot argue that Lucian Grainge didn’t show bold leadership, and didn’t make incredibly risky moves, based on a belief in the long-term value of music rights. A value, by the way, that keeps going up and up and up today.”

Adds Ingham: “We’re talking about a company valuation growth at Universal under Sir Lucian Grainge’s leadership of just under $48 billion in eight years [from 2013 to 2021].

“So the leader of that company getting a one-time bonus payout worth a quarter of a billion dollars, actually seems pretty good value from a shareholder point of view.”

Companies mentioned in this week’s episode of Talking Trends include: Activision Blizzard, EMI Music, Softbank, Tempo Music, Tencent, Universal Music Group.

People mentioned in this week’s episode of Talking Trends include: Bill Ackman, Josh Empson, Sir Lucian Grainge, Bobby Kotick, Ester McVey.

You can listen to MBW ‘s latest Talking Trends Podcast above or via this link.

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