Universal Music Group Unveils Ambitious China Expansion One Month Before IPO

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Beijing, China. Photo Credit: zhang kaiyv

About one month before its long-awaited stock-market debut, Universal Music Group has officially launched a “significant expansion of its recorded music operations within China.”

Vivendi’s Universal Music Group – over seven percent of which belongs to William Ackman’s Pershing Square – just recently detailed the ambitious expansion across China’s increasingly lucrative music market. The multifaceted move centers on the existing Universal Music Group Greater China’s “establishment of a multi-label structure, featuring new flagship labels.”

Among said flagship labels are Republic Records China, EMI China, PolyGram Records China, and Universal Music China, each of which is set to “operate independently with its own dedicated artist rosters, A&R and specialist marketing teams.” Higher-ups will report to UMGC chairman and CEO Sunny Chang, according to the release.

Republic Records China, Republic’s first international division, “will be built with the same blueprint and ethos as its sister label,” the text proceeds, with music industry veteran Tony Wen starting as managing director “effective immediately.” The UMG subsidiary is expected to announce its first artist signings “shortly.”

Next, Universal Music China “will be relaunched as a newly shaped label division” under managing director Garand Wu, representing some of China’s “most exciting domestic talent” and UMG’s international roster.

Included within the former category are 20-year-old Li Nong Chen (who released his debut studio album last year) and 24-year-old Thailand native Sunnee (who broke all manner of listenership records on Tencent Music’s QQ Music in 2020). Plus, UMC houses “China’s acclaimed classics and jazz division” as well as Magic Muses, “China’s first label dedicated solely to film soundtrack and score.”

Mei Yeh will lead EMI China while remaining on as managing director of Universal Music Taiwan, and team members at the former label intend to “focus on developing new talent” and promoting currently signed acts such as veteran artists aMei and Rainie Yang.

Finally, Polygram Records China will relaunch with Duncan Wong at the helm; Wong will continue to serve as managing director of Universal Music Hong Kong.

“In the coming months,” Universal Music Greater China – which has offices in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, as well as Taipei and Hong Kong – plans to roll out “additional labels dedicated to growing music genres” in the nation of approximately 1.4 billion residents. Similarly, the company will release new music from the aforementioned Sunnee and Li Nong Chen, besides Guo Ding, Oaeen, and others yet, during the remainder of 2021.

Universal Music Group reported a 38 percent year-over-year revenue boost in its H1 2021 earnings breakdown, and during the last month, Vivendi stock (VIV on the Euronext Paris) has quietly added nearly 11 percent to its worth, for a current per-share price of $36.