Universal Music Group Kicks Off $25 Million ‘Change Fund’

As UMG Sale Talks Slow, Liberty Media, Apple, KKR, and Tencent Emerge as Frontrunners
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On Monday, Digital Music News was first to report that Universal Music Group (UMG) had formed a social justice task force in the wake of nationwide protests and chaos. Now, the Big Three record label has equipped this task force with a $25 million “Change Fund.”

Additionally, Universal Music Group has officially dubbed its social justice task force the “Task Force for Meaningful Change.” UMG higher-ups disclosed this and other details to employees via another in-house memo, expanding upon that which CEO Lucian Grainge penned earlier this week to outline the social justice initiative.

As previously reported, UMG General Counsel and EVP Jeff Harleston will head the Meaningful Change Task Force. However, Harleston has been joined by Motown Records President Ethiopia Habtemariam, who will co-chair the task force and help determine the best uses of its allocated funds moving forward.

Aside from tailoring UMG’s internal policies and practices, the Change Fund is expected to provide donations to a number of social justice charities whose missions align with the Meaningful Change Task Force’s long-term goals.

The Change Fund’s announcement follows UMG’s participation in “Black Out Tuesday,” a protest movement created by the music industry (though an array of non-music individuals and groups voiced their support) designed to raise awareness of violence against African Americans. While some appreciated the company’s rallying behind the cause, others on social media called for more direct action in the form of donations.

Yesterday, leading music streaming service Spotify agreed to match $10 million in employee donations to charities that combat racism. As with the response to UMG’s participation in “Black Out Tuesday,” activist and fan impressions of the matched-donation pledge appeared mixed.

In other related news, rapper Jay-Z purchased full-page adverts, featuring an excerpt from a speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr., in many newspapers, and an array of music industry figures donated to cover protesters’ bail costs. However, some of these individuals subsequently came under fire.