Universal Music Group has consolidated its artist services into a new global Virgin Music Group division, the company announced on Tuesday (September 13).
Virgin Music Group will be led by music entrepreneurs and mtheory founders JT Myers and Night Pastor, who will serve as co-CEOs. In their new roles, Myers and Pastor will spearhead the expansion of UMG’s independent music capabilities across all of its business units and regions, while reporting to UMG’s Chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge.
The new division includes Virgin Music Label & Artist Services and Ingrooves Music Group, as well as mtheory’s bespoke label division, mtheory Artist Partnerships, which UMG has acquired. All Virgin Music Label & Artist Services regional hubs will immediately become part of the Virgin Music Group and operate under a unified strategy while continuing to leverage local A&R expertise and creative networks in their respective countries. This includes Virgin Music Label & Artist Services in the US, which will be spun off from Capitol Music Group to become an independent company serving all of UMG’s US labels and partners.
As for market share, a source close to the situation says all market share calculations will remain the same, meaning Virgin will continue to contribute to Capitol Music Group’s market share – but that could change down the road.
UMG is the latest major label to consolidate its independent distribution operations, following Warner Music, which combined its Independent Label Group and Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA) under one roof in 2012, and Sony Music, which merged The Orchard and RED into one single global entity under the Orchard brand in 2017.
Under the terms of the agreement, mtheory’s manager services business will remain completely independent and will be led by the newly appointed CEO Cameo Carlson. Mtheory will also spin off its MPRS Global producer royalty management platform, which will be led by its new CEO (and mtheory co-founder) Jon McMillan.
“To remain the best home for artists and entrepreneurs, we must drive innovation within our own businesses – offering new, high-quality resources to artists from all corners of the world as we continue to lead the industry’s transformation,” Grainge said in a statement. “Nat and JT’s track record of creating visionary partnerships with artists built on a foundation of trust, creativity and business acumen is exactly the kind of leadership we want for the new Virgin Music Group division. Together with our frontline labels and global footprint, Virgin Music Group offers artists unrivaled creative and commercial support.”
Boyd MuirUMG’s executive vip, CFO and president of operations, added: “Expanding the community of artists, labels and entrepreneurs with whom we work represents a significant opportunity for us, strategically complementing our labels and leveraging UMG’s existing world-class infrastructure. After having worked with mtheory, I know that the vision for the growth of the industry that Nat and JT bring will be a good fit for UMG and our artists, today and in the future.”
In addition to running Virgin Music Group, Myers and Pastor will support UMG’s corporate development activities by leveraging their “experience advising mtheory clients, music industry entrepreneurs and major corporations on strategic initiatives and music transactions,” according to a press release.
Said Myers, “mtheory was based on the idea that we could transform the music industry by offering better, more customized partnerships with artists. By bringing together these incredible global teams and resources, we have the opportunity to turbocharge this vision and deliver even more value for artists, labels and music entrepreneurs.”
Pastor added: “We are so grateful to Sir Lucian and Boyd for entrusting us with the iconic Virgin Music brand, one of the most successful independent labels in the history of the industry, as well as InGrooves, arguably the most sophisticated music technology platform in the world . .”
Virgin Music started as Virgin Records, the record label founded by Richard Branson in the UK in 1972. During its history, the company distributed labels including Frontline, Stiff, Charisma and Circa and also created Caroline and Astralwerks, which became thriving divisions within UMG after the music giant bought Virgin’s parent company EMI in 2012.
You can find a brief overview of the divisions that make up Virgin Music Group below.
Virgin Music Label & Artist Services: Launched in Feb. 2021 as a network of regional hubs in the world’s leading music markets. Virgin handles global distribution for indie labels including 10K Projects (Surfaces, Trippie Redd, Internet Money, iann dior), Work Show (Brazil), Mushroom Group (Australia and UK), Mavin Records (Nigeria), Photo Finish Records (SHAED , McKenna) Grace), Primary Wave Music (including Sun Records, Green Hill and Gaither music) and Range Media Partners (US). It has helped achieve global success for artists including Lauv, Lil Baby, NCT 127 and St. Vincent. It also partners with domestic labels to represent artists – including DAVE (UK), Tame Impala (Australia) and NF (US) – on a global basis.
Ingrooves Music Group: Acquired by UMG in 2019 and headquartered in Los Angeles, Ingroove offers marketing strategy, insights and analytics, rights management, advertising, innovative and patented technology, royalty accounting, video monetization and music licensing. Ingrooves has acquired local distributors Electromode in South Africa and Alda Music in Iceland and partnered with frontline labels to form distribution relationships with artists including BTS/HYBE (Interscope/Geffen Records) and Daddy Yankee (Republic Records). It has offices throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.
Mtheory Artist Partnerships: UMG has acquired mtheory’s custom label division, mtheory Artist Partnerships, although mtheory’s artist services business was not part of the transaction and remains independent. The label division boasts “aligned, equitable partnerships” with artists including Major Lazer, Tove Lo, Tom Odell, Empress Of, RL Grime, bbno$ and Porter Robinson and claims more than 80 gold and platinum certifications in 23 countries.