Lucian Grainge is the CEO of Universal Music Group, the biggest music label in the business. And UMG recently announced via press release that he’s signed a new contract. On the downside (for Lucian), the new contract will actually reduce his annual salary. On the plus side, the deal comes with a “one-time transition equity award” that could end up being worth as much as $100 million.
Grainge will earn a salary of $5 million, a fairly paltry sum by top executive standards, with an annual performance bonus of $10 million. But Grainge will be able to earn some real money thanks to that equity award, half of which is made up of stock options that will be paid out if the company hits certain stock market benchmarks: 26.50 euros, 30 euros, and 38 euros (as of this writing, UMG’s most recent traded price is 21.4 euros, or $23.32 US).
Throughout his illustrious career, Lucian Grainge has been instrumental in developing, rewarding, and maintaining relationships with a diverse roster of iconic artists. He has played a pivotal role in the careers of global superstars such as Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, and Ariana Grande, helping them grow and evolve within the music industry.
Additionally, Lucian has fostered the growth of numerous emerging talents such as Billie Eilish, Shawn Mendes, and Rosalía, whose exceptional artistry has greatly influenced the contemporary music landscape.
Even the legendary rapper Drake has acknowledged Lucian’s impact on his career, name-checking him in the Migos song “Havin Our Way.” On the song, Drake’s verse contained this lyric:
“Shit done changed, billionaires talk to me different when they see my paystub from Lucian Grainge.”
And Drake should be grateful to Lucian. The CEO was rewarded the rapper with an unprecedented $400 million overall contract back in May 2022.
Sherry Lansing is the Chairman of the Board at UMG, and she had this to say about Grainge’s leadership in the press release:
“UMG is the world´s most successful music company and there are incredible opportunities ahead for a company with the right leadership and vision. The UMG Board is resolutely committed to converting those opportunities and maximizing shareholder value for the long term. Only the right kind of chief executive can help achieve that goal and Lucian is just the one to do it. Through his clear vision and strong execution in building UMG into the industry leader, Lucian has also essentially created a new category of music company. This agreement is designed to drive both the sustainable success of UMG and long-term shareholder value.”
If that proves true and UMG grows in value on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange (where it’s been listed since 2021), Grainge will be making quite a tidy sum in the process. If his stock options pay out to their maximum value, he’ll be entering a rarified strata of executive compensation occupied by Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. CNBC reported that Cook made $83 million in stock awards (not including another $15 million in salary and other incentives) last year, while Nadella’s total holdings in Microsoft stock is valued at a reported $280 million.
Grainge joined UMG in 1986, becoming its CEO 24 years later. His new contract is now extended through May 1, 2028.