Universal now has a Chief Tech Officer: Gracenote founder Ty Roberts

It’s a job title more commonly associated with startups and Silicon Valley, but now Universal Music Group has hired its first ever Chief Technology Officer.

Digital veteran Ty Roberts, who co-founded entertainment data platform Gracenote, has been appointed to the newly created role of UMG’s Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, effective April 25.

He will oversee UMG’s technology strategy and is tasked with ‘directing new initiatives that leverage Universal’s digital assets, infrastructure and data resources to develop new creative and commercial opportunities for the company’s artists and labels’.

Roberts will be based in Santa Monica and report to Michael Nash, Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy.


“I have followed ty’s career with great admiration for over two decades.”

Michael Nash, UMG

“It speaks volumes about the rapid evolution of Universal Music Group that a technology leader of Ty Roberts’s stature is joining our team,” Nash said.

“I have followed Ty’s career with great admiration for over two decades and could not be more excited to have him bring his track-record of trailblazing innovation and transformative vision about the power of data to UMG at this critical juncture.”

The appointment of Roberts is a banner hire within Universal’s new-look digital setup, which has been constructed following the departure of Rob Wells – President of UMG’s Global Digital Business – last year.

Wells’s old team has now been entirely dismantled: MBW broke the news last week that Francis Keeling, Head of Global Digital Business at UMG and Wells’s former understudy, is leaving the company this month.

Said Roberts: “The intersection of music and technology is an extremely exciting space, full of promise and opportunity for artists and labels to create thrilling new experiences for fans, both directly and with our digital and consumer electronics partners.

“My goal is to build upon Universal Music’s existing leadership in technology and digital and make sure we’re poised to take full advantage of the vast opportunities that are ahead of us.

“I’m so thankful to Lucian Grainge and Michael Nash for trusting me with this important responsibility.”

“My goal is to build upon universal Music’s existing leadership in tech and digital.”

Ty Roberts, UMG

Roberts was one of the inventors of the Enhanced CD at ION Music in the early and mid-90s, and is credited with producing some of the industry’s first multimedia titles with artists including David Bowie, Brian Eno, Todd Rundgren and The Residents.

He most recently served as Gracenote’s Chief Strategy Officer and General Manager of Music, overseeing a global team delivering music data and technology solutions to many of the largest players in the digital music business including Apple, Sony, Spotify, Amazon, Microsoft and many others.

Roberts joined Gracenote in 1998 and remained with the company in an unbroken 18-year tenure – until Lucian Grainge came knocking.

Gracenote was formed when Roberts’s ION merged with database software CDDB.

Before Gracenote, Roberts held a number of senior positions at established and start-up technology companies, including helping to develop QuickTime at Apple.

In 1988, Roberts co-founded Lightsource Computer Images, a company that produced multimedia and graphics editing software, after a stint working at animated movie giant Pixar.Music Business Worldwide

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