Rob Wells, Universal’s President Of Global Digital Business, is leaving the company after 14 years, MBW has learnt.
[Update: as you can read below, Wells said in his farewell note to staff that he will remain tight with UMG ‘whatever entrepreneurial opportunity I explore next’.]
Wells, who is based at the company’s Santa Monica, California headquarters, sent an emotional note to UMG staff earlier today announcing his farewell.
The popular exec has served as UMG’s President of Global Digital Business since October 2010, reporting into Universal’s worldwide boss Lucian Grainge.
In Wells’s note to staff today, obtained by MBW this evening, he said:
“With a heavy heart but an incredible sense of accomplishment and pride, I write you today to tell you that I have decided to leave my position and to explain why.
“When I started working with Lucian more than 14 years ago, neither of us could have imagined the digital possibilities in store for our business. Apple wouldn’t launch the iTunes Store for several years to come – and YouTube, Pandora, Vevo and Spotify weren’t even ideas on a white board.
“Together, we helped build Universal Music Group’s digital business from its infancy into a global leader. At every turn, we pushed the industry forward, making sure our business model adapted to the way that consumers wanted to listen to music while insuring that our artists shared in all the new revenue streams.
“UMG under lucian’s leadership has always been an incredible company… I am so proud of what we’ve achieved together.”
“Today, music from our incredible roster of artists is available for download at hundreds of online stores. Listeners can access tracks globally at dozens of music streaming services. Or they can watch the latest music videos from their favorite artist on Vevo and other sites.
“There are more ways to listen to music today than at any time in the long history of the industry – and I feel incredibly proud of our role in that accomplishment. Just as we couldn’t imagine the extent of digital opportunities that lay ahead of us all those years ago, that is a fraction of the possibilities that await over the next 15 years.
“I am so grateful to Lucian for allowing me this opportunity. Universal Music Group has the best team in the business and a second-to-none artist roster. The company is poised for an incredibly bright future and I look forward to seeing where all of you lead the industry.
“While leaving isn’t easy, I take comfort in the extraordinary digital team that I am leaving behind–who have become more than just work colleagues but a true family–and the knowledge that whatever entrepreneurial opportunity I explore next, I will always have a close relationship with everyone at Universal Music Group, both here in the US and in every territory around the world.
“Someone once told me that when you leave a senior role, you leave the power behind. I accept that, but what you take with you in fond memories, accomplishments and lasting friendships is where the real power lies.
“UMG under Lucian’s leadership has always been and will always be an incredible company, which allows people to develop those memories, foster those accomplishments and nurture those friendships.
“It has been a pleasure to work with you all and I am so proud of what we’ve achieved together.”
“Rob leaves big shoes to fill and we will be making announcements in the coming days.”
Wells first joined Universal Music UK in 2000 as Division Director of Digital Services.
He was subsequently promoted to Senior VP of Universal Music Group’s international division, where he was responsible for directing and executing all aspects of the company’s international digital business.
Two years ago, he took up a prestigious position on UMG’s Executive Board, where he sat alongside long-term boss Lucian Grainge.
Grainge followed Wells’ note with his own memo to staff today, in which he thanked the exec for his “many contributions over the years”.
He added: “The significance of what he accomplished while at UMG cannot be understated. And for that, we will forever be thankful.
“I will miss Rob’s professionalism, his sense of humor and his commitment to our artists and labels.
“Rob leaves big shoes to fill and we will be making announcements in the coming days. I know you’ll join me in wishing him only the best of success in all of his future endeavors.”
Prior to UMG, Wells worked in a series of positions at BMG Entertainment, beginning his career in an entry-level direct mail job and culminating with his service as Head of Internet and New Media.Music Business Worldwide