Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge has been named Cannes Lions Media Person of the Year — the first music executive to receive the honor since it was launched in 1999. The award, which recognizes innovators who have shaped the future of media, will be presented at a ceremony on Wednesday, June 21 during the annual festival in Cannes, France. He is being cited for “championing innovative business models” and “creating a series of partnerships with a wide range of international technology and media partners.”
Along with his substantial accomplishments as the head of the world’s largest music company, Grainge has aggressively overseen UMG’s expansion into theatrical motion pictures, winning an Academy Award for the Amy Winehouse documentary “Amy” and producing Ron Howard’s successful “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” documentary. He has also recently re-launched Polygram Entertainment for further film and TV development, including two upcoming projects, “The Story of Motown” and “Mystify,” the latter a film about the late INXS frontman Michael Hutchence.
Grainge led UMG’s successful acquisition of EMI in 2011, which cemented the company’s position as the global leader in music. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2016 for his contributions to British business and inward investment, as part of the Queen’s 90th birthday honors.
Ascential Events CEO Philip Thomas, an organizer of Cannes Lions, said, “Through creative drive, passion and outstanding leadership, Sir Lucian has made bold investments in music and technology that helped return the industry to growth, while continuing to foster an environment that puts artists first.”
Added Grainge, “While today’s music industry is virtually unrecognizable from the business I started in, one thing that hasn’t changed is that great artists and great music remain at the heart of everything we do. We are proud to demonstrate how traditional media businesses can reinvent themselves in the age of streaming, leverage new technologies and work closely with brand partners to develop exciting opportunities for artists, labels and fans.”
The 2016 honoree was Vice Media co-founder Shane Smith, and past winners include HBO CEO Richard Plepler, YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Viacom chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone.