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Universal chief chats at Code Media as Vessel deal announced

By | Published on Friday 20 February 2015

Lucian Grainge

Universal Music boss Lucian Grainge did some of that chatting stuff at Re/code’s Code Media conference in California yesterday, and was upbeat about the state of the music business, which was returning to “growth” and “health” he said.

Keen to stress that trends in music consumption vary wildly around the world – and reminding his tech-heavy audience of the “shocking” fact that CD still dominates in two of the biggest markets, Japan and Germany (and is still strong in some other key territories too) – when it comes to digital Grainge noted that the current challenge was finding ways of making paid-for streaming music more attractive to more users.

He was basically confirming that, while freemium is useful for promotion and getting a little income from those consumers who previously brought you nothing, subscription services will likely be the core of the future digital music market. And that means experimenting with new paid-for digital services that might appeal to different kinds of consumers.

An example of that, Grainge would say, was the news that Universal was following Warner in forming an alliance with new video-on-demand platform Vessel, which will give paying subscribers to that service early access to some of the major’s new videos.

Which, of course, means Vessel getting content (slightly) earlier than Vevo, the music video platform in which Universal is a sizable shareholder. Though it fits in with Grainge’s double mantra of experimenting with new services that might attract different market segments, while prioritising premium over freemium.

See some edited highlights of Grainge’s chat on the Re/code site here.