Universal Music Group (UMG) has received the “Ukraine Peace Prize” for its self-described “support for humanitarian relief efforts in the region” as well as “music’s historic role in fostering peace.”
UMG, which earlier this year became the first Big Three label to cease operating in Russia, formally revealed today that it had been awarded the Ukraine Peace Prize. Issued by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the honor was given to Universal Music’s chairman and CEO of Central Europe and Deutsche Grammophon, Frank Briegmann, the company indicated.
Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, presented Briegmann with the award (complete with a customized plaque) at the Universal Music Belgium headquarters in Brussels. The involved individuals snapped one of the resulting photos while standing before a collection of vinyl records (Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour among them) and a screen displaying the UMG logo.
Universal Music’s SVP of public affairs for Europe, Robbert Baruch, was also on hand for the award ceremony, pictures show, as was Universal Music Belgium MD Patrick Guns and Universal Music Benelux CEO Kees Van Der Hoeven.
Addressing her government’s decision to issue the award to Universal Music Group, Deputy Prime Minister Stefanishyna said: “Ukraine is grateful to Universal Music for its ongoing support. The company was one of the first to support Ukraine and join the sanctions against Russia.
“UMG is the first music company in the world to receive such an award. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Universal Music has proven that they are true friends of Ukraine and entertainment/culture sphere shouldn’t stand aside the war.”
Meanwhile, Universal Music took the opportunity to tout some of the initiatives that it’s said to have spearheaded to support Ukraine, such as donating to multiple relief-centered NGOs in the region and coordinating with the Metropolitan Opera on the release of A Concert for Ukraine. (The latter live album only shares a name with the separate charity show that featured Ed Sheeran and others.)
Lastly, regarding the programs and undertakings that UMG’s involved itself with to assist the nation of about 44 million residents, higher-ups pointed to an array of charity concerts (which took place in several countries) and Sting’s rerecording of “Russians.”
Funds from the newer iteration of the 1985 track are reaching a Ukrainian “volunteer storage center,” Universal Music relayed. Universal Music Publishing Group purchased Sting’s catalog for a reported $300 million seven months ago.