Review and Analysis of Arts Marketing in Universal Music Group

Updated: Sep 28, 2020


Review and Analysis of Arts - Arts Marketing is the combination of several marketing concepts that lead to the dissemination of art, beliefs, culture, aesthetic values and arts education to the wider group of population (O'Reilly and Kerrigan 2010, pp.41). The main challenge that art industry and its practitioners are facing, is an ever changing and dynamic environment, tastes, fashion, beliefs and culture (Boorsma 2006, pp.74).

It is a challenge to run business activities profitably in such dynamic environment. The main challenge is to market the art in a right manner for commercializing it. The choice is always between ‘Product Orientation’ and ‘Market Orientation’ (Larsen and Dennis 2015). The implication of both these orientations are required to make the art popularize and commercial, thereby, gelling well with the culture, fashion and demand.

An art is a direct interface between an artist and its audiences, whereas on commercial front marketing of arts is needed at every point of business (Lee and Lee 2017, pp.19). Art has a ‘Self Marketing’ capability. The campaigns like launch shows, brand endorsement, corporate social responsibility and collaboration with fashion brands have the potential to double the sales capability of art.

Marketing should be seen as an indirect interface with the audience, when not in museum, theatre or auditorium. It would increase audience base, better dissemination of information via art and increase the profits for the business. The key behind the success should be to market the core artistic values while keeping auxiliary services flexible for dynamic environment.

Universal Music Group- Company Background

UMG- Universal Music Group is a music company based out in the United States. It is known as one of the world’s leading companies in music and arts. It works on the three pillars of success and those are displayed in the figure 1 below (UMG, 2018):

UMG has its running operations and the units in the fields of music recording, distributing and publishing in 75 countries. The main dimension of work is attributed towards the identification of music artists and lyricists, thereby, producing, recording and distributing music for the wide network of fans. The objective behind is to acclaim success and money while entertaining the fans worldwide. UMG is engaged in the business of music recording, music publication, music physical distributions, licensed online distributions and distributions through cellular, cable and network satellites (UMG, 2018).

UMG strives for perfection and offers culturally rich music since its inception in 1919. Its marketing strategies, music recordings and distributions run parallel with the new technologies and innovations, so as to deliver the best in the industry. It works with the passion of uniting people and souls with their unmatched music senses and lyrics.

UMG is headed by Sir Lucian Grainge who acts as a Chairman and CEO of UMG, followed by Michele Anthony- Executive Vice President (Billboard, 2018). UMG works for several brands and accolades like Abbey Road Studios, Bravad, Capitol Music Group, Decca, EMI, Island US, Island UK, Universal Music Latin Entertainment, Republic Records, Virgin EMI Records UK, Universal Music Publishing Group, Verve Label Group and several others (UMG, 2018).

In 2016, UMG’s global record label revenue share amounted to 28.9%, which is very high as against the share of its rival Sony (Worldwide, 2018). The overall revenues of UMG increased by 56% with a major contribution of music streaming in it. UMG achieved a growth rate of 2.4% in 2016 (Worldwide, 2018).

UMG Strategies- Business, Corporate and Marketing

UMG has distinguished and diversified collection of music and artists, which is the greatest USP (Unique Selling Property) for its success. Following are the business, corporate and marketing strategies adopted by UMG:

Product Differentiation

Product differentiation is the marketing strategy that works on the principle of having diverse variety of products to be traded in the business (Maitland 2000, pp.6-8). It is more of a business strategy the markets the brand being associated with different products. There is a wide variety of merchandise that UMG caters to. It ranges from song writing to music recording that has established strongly into the fields of publishing and distribution. Having said this, all the products are diverse in nature that can behold entire range of culture, fashion and belief in them (French and Runyard 2011, pp.88). This resulted in the formation of huge fan base for UMG’s music records. Hence, the business is running well with increase in revenues, fan followings, customers and market share.

Internal Links Strategy

It is the business strategy that builds connection and multifunctional relationship among all the departments, workers, officials and tasks of a business (Spikes and Ramond 1976, p.315). UMG follows internal link strategy for the artists who are provided with a wide network and connection with internal departments and functions in order to build artist’s brand and image. Such internal functions focus on providing each artist an access to the best technologies, merchandising, and live music and management services. It brings loyalty and sense of belongingness among the artists, while building a unique image for them.

Global Diversification

Global diversification is the marketing strategy in which the products and brands are traded internationally. The strategy helps in achieving cross culture advantages, building brand name, mitigation of certain risks and earning high revenues (O'Reilly and Kerrigan 2010, pp.40-52). UMG is globally diversified with its business running in over 70 countries. International presence through both physical and digital distribution of music records has helped UMG in achieving high returns and market share.

Elabs - Ecommerce Initiative

Ecommerce is the arts marketing strategy in which the goods are sold online through online portals and apps. The online selling of music highlights the presence of products and brands to a bigger market (Kotler and Bernstein 2007, pp.114). One of the biggest business and marketing strategy that UMG has adopted is developing a new division named as ‘eLabs’. It is an innovative strategy that has led UMG to enter into an Ecommerce business genre. The portal provides UMG an opportunity of selling its products online, launching its latest music and artists, creating an online library and embarking its presence worldwide. Hence, it is an optimal mix of diversifying and marketing (Fillis 2011, pp.14).

Strategic Alliance with Digital Retailers

The ‘strategic alliance and digital retailers’ strategy helps in creating networks and business relations. It helps in opening up new channels for distribution of the products, thereby increasing sales and revenue (Barnewall and Webster 1973, p.120). At the time in 2007, when the UMG’s total revenues fell by 11.7% (Statista, 2018) , the strategy that worked to increase the share in the declining music industry was the strategic alliance and partnerships with digital download retailers as Apple iTunes, Napster, Wal-Mart and RealNetworks.

Such alliances and partnerships have always kept UMG out of the risk of failing, in contrary to its competitors. UMG has also expanded its investments in music portals and unrestricted music catalogues as in and respectively. Because of such alliances, partnerships and investments, UMG has maintained a long lasting leadership position even at the times when the music industry was declining.

Capitalizing Changing Industry

The capitalizing changing industry strategy discusses about taking advantage of the changing market behaviour, fashion and taste, by investing in competent market if one or the other market falls (Larsen and Dennis, 2015). The above strategy is one of the most experimental strategies in terms of attempting new investment ideas in dynamic industry, which UMG has incorporated. In this strategy, if one of the artist or music type fails in one market, UMG expands the investments in corresponding market in order to gain compensation for losses.

Corporate Integration and Acquisition

The corporate integration and acquisition strategy helps in increasing up the market share by acquiring or integrating with competitors or other players in the market (Rich 2003, pp.290). The above strategy allows UMG to have wider networks via interdependence of divisions and acquisitions pertaining to competitors. The integration and acquisition helps in the promotion, growth and expansion of the company. Such acquisitions caters to the need to effective marketing and publicity of being in top media news, thereby, promoting the business and its artists.

Goodwill and Artist Management

The goodwill and artist management strategy focuses on building intangible assets for an organization as well as its brands. ‘Goodwill’ is termed as an intangible asset for a company that boosts its (Rich 2003, pp.291).UMG manages its artists by providing them the resources that are required for their skill development and building of their image; by conducting marketing campaigns with them, and organizing their live shows etc. The strategy caters to build the skills, quality and image of both the artists and the music records.

Arts Marketing and Communication- UMB

Arts marketing are performed in context of popularizing and commercializing art and media (, 2018). The arts marketing concept is adopted by majorly all the art and media companies. UMG has adopted marketing strategies for effective dissemination of its music records across the world. Following are the arts marketing strategies performed by UMG:

Dynamic Content

UMG’s Chairman and CEO in 2003 announced a marketing strategy that is to be adopted by the company to shape and improve the business in the competitive market. The strategy is to develop ‘Dynamic Content’ that can work with flexibility to cater to the needs of changing market. It is an important strategy that helps in facing the time of recession and gaining survival (Goodell and Martin 1992, pp.7).

Artists and Repertoire work (A&R work)

A & R strategy works in arts business, where the artists are directly linked with the brands and labels for marketing purpose (O'Reilly 2011, pp.29). For UMG, A&R work has always been a core art marketing strategy where the new or renowned artist is found and established. A proper liaison is made between the artist and the record label. A&R strategy helps in overseeing the records and assists in the marketing as well as promotion of the music record. Artists serve as a face for such marketing as they form a liaison with the music and label record. UMG is currently working on the parameters of strengthening its services and doubling of A&R work capabilities.

Playlist Marketing Strategy

UMG has hired world’s leading Playlist strategy Boss for global market streaming (UMG, 2018). UMG will use data and analytics in order to enhance the performance of its artists across various streaming platforms. On a marketing front, UMG look into the management of its global playlists and coordinates worldwide playlist strategy across its different brand labels. It also looks in to the alliance and partnerships with third party playlists vendors in order to promote its artists and music worldwide (Ingham, 2018).

360 degree mobile strategy for artists

The 360 degree mobile strategy for artists is a need of an hour. Mobile marketing is the latest form of Arts Marketing spinning around the clock (Mohr and Nevin 1990, p.36). UMG also has taken advantage of mobile technology and has started mobilizing artist’s websites. The mobilization would enhance its direct customer distribution and would prove to be a boom for music fans. 360 degree mobile strategy does not only includes mobile websites but also a facility of providing text messages or notifications to the fans regarding any latest music or artist launch, in addition to the information regarding any live shows of favourite artists nearby. These services will be open for all iOS, Android and Windows users (, 2018).

Marketing Campaigns

Marketing campaigns multiply the effects of promotions and marketing of the business (Maitland 2000, pp.7). UMG has launched several campaigns in alliance with the makeup and other brands for promoting its artists music records. One such marketing campaign was launched in 2016 under the name of IAMANARTIST in alliance with ‘Make up for ever’ brand (The Drum, 2018). The campaign has led to the performance of ‘Influencer Marketing’ where the artists, music and brand got exemplary promotion and publicity.

Branding Artists

The strategy of branding artists holds an idea of bringing recognition to the artists. The strategy is one of the branding and marketing strategies that work for art businesses like music, firm, media etc. If artists are famous or branded, the music will definitely fetch fans and revenues (Chong 2010, pp.67). The link between artists and music record is positive, which means if an artist is hit, music will nearly be hit. UMG adopted this strategy and make its artists famous before the launch of music.

Social Media Marketing

The social media marketing is the new age arts marketing strategy (Wood 2012, pp.100). In this digital world, where technology plays its part for advertising, promoting, distributing and selling of products, world’s leading music company should have adopted it. UMG is creating Watsapp groups, Facebook pages and other social media content for promoting and selling music directly to its fans. These interactions helps in keeping all fans and customers intact with information regarding new launch of music, new artist, live shows, all-time hits and any music campaign running nearby.

Therefore, these are the key strategies that UMG is undertaking for the purpose of facilitating Arts Marketing.

Past and Recent Work Innovations

The information regarding the past and the recent work innovations of UMG is provided in this section. The information will help the author in critically evaluating the strategies on the basis of its uses, effectiveness and commercials.

IAMANARTIST- Make up for ever brand

“IAMANARTIST’ arts marketing campaign was organized by UMG in 2016-17, where the mega music star “Jessie J’, collaborated with French cosmetic brand “Make up for ever”, fashion photographer “Rankin” and international makeup artist “Sammy Mourabit”; in order to release a single number “Can’t take my eyes off you” (The Drum, 2018). The campaign was in itself an influencer for music and artists. The campaign made headlines and garnered more than 2 million YouTube views and around 38000 posts. Connection with brands is one sort of marketing as well as association with the fans (Hill, O’Sullivan & O’Sullivan 2003, p.360). Artists have to get themselves associated with campaigns and brands that promote their art as well as beauty. Therefore, it acts as a combination for the launch of music as well as publicity of an artist.

Launch of Division- “AfterCluv”

UMG in Latin America has launched its division “AfterCluv”, which is a 360 degree platform for culture and Electronic dance entertainment including booking agencies, media partnerships, brand associations, record label, and talent acquisitions. Media partnerships comprises of TV shows, radio shows and podcasts. All these services and associations have led to the enhancement in earnings potential of the company. The launch was crucial and successfully implemented by UMG in 2017.

Re-launch of PolyGram Entertainment

In 2017, UMG re-launched PolyGram Entertainment, which is for the acceleration of UMG’s film and television industry (Group, 2018). The role of PolyGram Entertainment is to produce and broadcast feature films as well as television stories under Universal Music Publishing Group and UMG’s labels. PolyGram entertainment will work in association with Hollywood studios, media partners, and networks in order to gain proficiency and branding. The re-launch of this division was a strategic step to market UMG’s own labels and setting up a wide network with Hollywood as well (Group, 2018).

Global License Deal- Facebook and UMG

In 2017, UMG signed a Global License deal with Facebook and became first ever company to distribute its licensed records and catalogues across Facebook, Oculus and Instagram (Briel, 2018). The deal proved to be a boom for UMG as it can directly connect with its fans over social media. The multiplying factor is that one can share or download music for themselves and with their loved ones. The distribution features provided by Facebook enhanced the reach of records, music, and artists across the world, thereby increasing the earning potential.

Evaluation of Arts Marketing Strategies adopted by UMG

Arts marketing strategies as discussed above, has fetched greater returns and revenues for UMG. UMG stood confidently to the declining music industry and achieved good revenues in spite of a depression. The reason behind such success is thoughtfully designed as well as executed arts marketing strategies.

As per records, UMG’s revenue got a heap of 10% in 2017, owing to its successful campaigns and streaming growth. The unbelievable revenues were recorded at 5.673 billion pounds in 2017, which are much more than 2016 records. The revenues from recorded music enhanced by 11.3% and from subscription and streaming by 35.4%. The revenues from music publishing increased by 9.6%, but the only lag were the revenues of merchandising, which has gone down by 7.1% (, 2018).

Therefore, the above data evaluates an exponential success achieved by UMG through its arts marketing strategies and campaigns.


The analysis for reviewing UMG’s marketing and communication activity would be conducted with the help of market research and analysis tools (Alvesson and Sandberg 2012, pp.135), as discussed below.

SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis is the analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for an organization. It is an important tool to identify the stand of an organization on a marketing front (Lehmann 1989, pp.20). Researchers use SWOT analysis as a research tool for the implication of marketing science in their research work (Editorial 2012, pp. 875)

Strengths: There are factors that work as strong pillars for UMG and its marketing capabilities. UMG enjoys the benefit of global as well as large local market. UMG as a company is wide with various multi-functional and integrated divisions that work closely and united. The management is advanced and proactive in generating revenues and publicising its records. UMG as a brand is recognised and known for its cross cultural and dynamic music. Its artists share a great connection with their fans. UMG has in its account largest market share among other companies in music industry. Large base of partnerships, alliances and associations has built a foundation for UMG’s marketing and corporate extension. Dedicated teams and exorbitant campaigns add largely to its success and revenue generation.


UMG also faces some weak points that may lead to loss of revenues, customers and idea sometimes. Availability of pirated records and music leads to the reduction in revenue generation as well as leakage of records, sometimes before the release. The act may lower down merchandise as well as digital potential. The loophole in the system in context to file sharing through social and digital media proves to be a weakness for UMG. This may create branding but may lower down merchandise and revenues. Music industry is a high risk industry and thus, changes in fashion, trend and tastes may lead to a 360 degree reversal in financial position. Uncertainty pertaining to artist’s deals proves to be a major weakness where breach of contract from artist’s side may amount to defamation as well as loss of revenues.


There are lot many opportunities lying ahead for UMG. UMG enjoys diverse consumer base. Therefore, inhibiting cross cultural music pertaining to diverse fan following could be a great opportunity ahead for UMG. UMG could exploit this opportunity either by an individualistic approach towards diverse consumer base or by a cross cultural approach in combination. With the advent of technologies and new distribution channels, UMG can expand its sales and merchandise exponentially. UMG could seek for new trends and thereby, produce latest fusions and records (, 2018). In a Global market, UMG may come across various culture and festivals that could prove as key dates for concerts, marketing and campaigning for its products. UMG has an opportunity to access the new as well as emerging talent, across the world.


Local as well as Global competition is the major threat for UMG as there are wide number of music companies emerging across the world. Stringent government regulations with respect to copyright and that too different with different nations, proves to be one of the major threats for UMG. Dynamic industry and its volatile costs are the threats towards brand image as well as revenue generation. Individual artists may launch their records separately rather than being in collaboration, which may prove to be a threat for UMG’s branding.

Therefore, this is the SWOT Analysis of UMG with respect to its marketing and branding strategies.

PEST Analysis

Pest Analysis is the analysis of political, economic, social and technological aspects of company’s performance and marketing (Lehmann 1989, pp.22).

Political: There are several political factors that affect the company’s growth and performance. Different laws and regulations of different economies across the world, affects the performance, marketing and growth of UMG. Due to piracy of the music records, UMG is struggling with loss of employment and revenues. The copyright and intellectual property laws are disturbing UMG’s campaigning and marketing activities.

Economic: Piracy is the culprit for the economic losses of music industry as well as UMG. Due to the pirated issues (Walmsley 2011, pp.130), music industry has lost 12.5 million pounds and the growth rate dropped to only 1.7% (, 2018). The high cost of production, artists, record label and distribution makes it only a spending activity rather than fully potential earning activity.

Social: The change in fashion, tastes and preferences of consumer affects the business as well as its marketing strategies. Devaluation of value of music in context to price that consumer pays, is a question of trouble. With the prospect of streaming activities, consumers are not willing to pay the price for the music.

Technological: If technology has helped in the innovation of new ideas and channels, it has also proved to be a declining factor in the ways of piracy, file sharing, devaluation of music and other distributional aspects.

Therefore, this is the PEST analysis for UMG’s marketing strategies and branding.


In this section, author will provide recommendations towards the future growth, marketing strategies and prospects for UMG, based upon the above review, analysis and its own cognitive ability.

Being digital marketing and digital distributing running in trend, UMG should focus on increase in investments as well as collaborations in/with digital marketers and media companies. The idea will make marketing easily approachable across the globe as well as fast distribution of music records.

UMG should focus on extracting innovative distribution channels in order to cut the losses aroused from piracy and illegal streaming activities. The laws related to copyright and licensing should be strict and double checked for any loopholes, to prevent against malfunctions. UMG should also focus on acquiring talent across the world and exhibiting the latest trends and fashion in its music.

Acquisitions should be expanded while increasing the market share and market capture in all respects. These would result into investments that are able to reap exorbitant profits in future. Campaigns and concerts should be of prime importance to launch music records and artists. These should be increased in numbers as against the current scenario. The collaboration should be fostered with the fashion as well as luxury car brands. The collaboration with luxury car brands could increase in branding and earnings.

Certain award shows and live shows could be targeted as marketing stands for launching any number song. Competitions could be held for brand promotions, along with distributing free tickets or goodies. Digital sales should be focussed primarily with increase in investments, while scaling back physical units sales.

‘The power of word’ strategy should be implemented as the art work is not readily understood, thus, dissemination of meaning by the qualified members of the art machine will help in the generation of audiences (Robertson and Chong 2008, pp.50)

The above mentioned recommendations could be met by applying a perfect Marketing Mix. Please refer below mentioned proposal for the same.

Marketing mix

It is the set of tools that an organization incorporates for the purpose of enhancing its products demand and meeting all the objectives of the organization (Bass 1993, pp.1).

UMG can process following recommended ‘Marketing Mix’ in order to gain sustainability, growth and promotion.

Price: Since, price is the main problem for UMG against attaining sustainability; it has to set right at better value that fans are looking for. Devaluation of the music affects the pricing and hence, UMG has to revise its prices for records, keeping them low but at great value. The external impact of competitors and technology would also affect the pricing strategy of UMG’s records and music (Rentschler and Kirchner 2012, pp.14).

Promotion: The promotional strategies are near to accurate. But, a little enhancement and targeting the potential audiences is necessary. Being in the limelight would be the key to success. UMG should focus on performing campaigns at the right time, in the target market and with accurate research (Fillis 2011, pp.17). UMG should choose the festivals or events judicially where it could target majority of the audience.

Such as, Christmas Eve and a launch party could be a combination. Thanks giving and a campaign could also help in achieving the objectives. Even cricket matches as well as car shows could be targeted for campaigns. The film industry and cinema provides a marketing space such as film promotions, award shows and festival celebrations for music launches and promotions (Parks 2007, pp.117). Even Cinema halls advertisement would promote music records and the artists, targeting the moviegoers (Marick 2009, pp.252).

People: Connecting with the audiences (Tench and Yeomans 2006, pp. 357) and choosing the potential target market is what a need of an hour is. Social media and digital marketing could be the key to unlock the right target market (Luna-Nevarez and Torres 2015, pp.11). UMG should focus on making Facebook fan pages, open to suggestions and feedback and for announcement of new launches. This will directly connect with the audience. The collaboration with media and showbiz could give the right signal towards trends and fashion as well as what people are listening to (Kotler and Bernstein 2007, pp.118).

Product: UMG should keep on making its products diverse and intense. Skilled artists could bring product quality (Maitland 2000, pp.6). New investments should be made in order to increase the revenues. Since, music industry is growing only at the rate of 1.7%, which is quite low (BBC FOUR, 2009); UMG should invests in new product lines like television shows, movies, short documentaries, video jockey programs and many more.

Therefore, these are the recommendations for UMG’s future marketing, growth and promotional strategies.


UMG’s arts marketing strategies performs at par with the objectives of the company and could be rated as one of the best strategies incorporated in music industry. The marketing strategies have unveiled almost all the possible strategies that could be implemented and achieved greater market share as well as revenues. Be it an artist management, recognition, branding, labelling, marketing or distributing, UMG has excelled in all the areas pertaining to arts marketing. The only limitation is the declining value of music in terms of price. Pirated records of music are the cause for such devaluation. But, UMG has excelled these barriers and is campaigning towards growth and success.


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