Universal Music Group (UMG) is the largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry. With a 25.5% market share, it is one of the Big Four record labels. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vivendi; Universal Studios, the movie studio, was sold in part to NBC, which itself is part of GE.

UMG's record labels have many of the world's best selling artists[1] including Def Leppard, The Killers, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Fall Out Boy, Enrique Iglesias, Bon Jovi, Queens of the Stone Age, Falco, Elton John, Eminem, Tupac Shakur, Guns N' Roses, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Marilyn Manson, Akon, Reba McEntire, Sheena Easton, Diana Ross,Barry White, Luciano Pavarotti, Rammstein, U2, the Black Eyed Peas,Nelly Furtado, Wu-Tang Clan, George Strait, Gwen Stefani, Maroon5, Grace Jones, The Mars Volta, Rihanna, Kanye West, Ashanti, Mims, Amy Winehouse and Fergie. UMG now owns the largest music publishing business in the world, the Universal Music Publishing Group, (after their acquisition of BMG Music Publishing in June 2007).

Vivendi's headquarters are in Paris, France. In the United States, UMG is located in Santa Monica, California, and New York City, New York along with Universal Music Group Nashville; in the UK the group has a number of offices in London and Romford.


"Universal Music" was once the music company attached to film studio Universal Pictures. Its origins go back to the formation of the American branch of Decca Records in 1934. MCA Inc. bought American Decca in 1962. The present organization was formed when its parent company Seagram purchased PolyGram and merged it with Universal Music Group in 1998. However, the name first appeared in 1996 when MCA Music Entertainment Group was renamed Universal Music Group.

With the 2004 acquisition of Vivendi's Vivendi Universal Entertainment by General Electric's NBC, Universal Music Group was separated entirely from its film studio namesake for the first time.

In February 2006, the group became 100% owned by French media conglomerate Vivendi SA when Vivendi purchased the last 20% from Matsushita, the group's sole owner from 1990 to 1995 and co-owner from 1995 to 2006.

On September 6 2006 it was announced that Universal Music will purchase BMG Music Publishing (to become Universal Music Publishing Group), for €1.63 billion ($2.1 billion), subject to regulatory approval.[2]


Universal Music Group owns, or has a joint share in, a large number of record labels, including:


The Island Def Jam Music Group

Machete Music

Sanctuary Records

  • Antidote Records
  • Attack Records
  • Castle Home Video
  • Castle Music
  • Castle Pie
  • Castle Pulse
  • Castle Select
  • Discotheque
  • Fantastic Plastic
  • Indigo
  • Mayan Records
  • Metal-is Records
  • Noise Records
  • RAS Records
  • Rough Trade Records
  • Rough Trade Records U.S.
  • Sanctuary Records U.S.
  • Sanctuary Records UK
  • Sanctuary Classics
  • Sanctuary Special Editions
  • Sanctuary Visual Entertainment
  • Sequel
  • Slogan
  • Trojan Records
  • Vapor Records
  • Vertical Records

The Universal Motown/Universal Republic Group

Decca Label Group

Universal Music Group Nashville

Verve Records

Stand-alone labels

Independent labels distributed by Universal Music Group

Labels outside of the U.S.



In May 2006, an investigation led by New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer concluded with a determination that Universal bribed radio stations to play songs from Ashlee Simpson, Brian McKnight, Big Tymers, Lindsay Lohan and other performers working for Universal labels. The company paid $12 million to the state in settlement. [4]


In September 2007, Universal came up with an new way of tackling music piracy by "paying the pirates", beginning with a pilot of tracks from ( Music Group). [5]

In December 2007, Colbie Caillat inadverdently announced that The Universal Music Group recently enacted a new policy on that will reduce all songs from artists within The Universal Music Group to 90 seconds. [1]

In December 2007 The Label announced a deal with Imeem which allows users of the social network to listen to any track from Universal's catalogue for free with a portion of the advertising generated by the music being shared with the record label[6]. Two weeks after the deal was announced Michael Robertson speculated on the secret terms of the deal and argued that ultimately this was a bad deal for imeem. This speculation lead to a flame war on the Pho digital media email list as imeem representatives denied his claims and dismissed his theories as unfounded.[7]

International Music Feed (IMF)

On January 7 2008 UMG had announced that the IMF channel would be going off the air as the music group had sold the channel to another network dedicated to showcases of the fine arts. As of January 9 2008, Channel 157 on Dish Network had officially become Ovation TV.[8]


UMG continues to target individual users using any video that contains any music they own, regardless of context.

UMG's copyright infringement lawsuit against the video-sharing website Stage6 has been cited as a possible reason for the closure of the site on 29 February 2008.[9]

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