THE 2022 BILLBOARD POWER LIST REVEALED
The past year's boom in music assets shaped Billboard's biggest list yet of the industry's leaders — including a tally of its top 25 executives, led by UMG chairman/CEO Sir Lucian Grainge.
Money changes everything. Over the past year new types of investors poured record sums into music, reshaping the power dynamics of the business. So Billboard decided to take a closer look at how the industry’s most powerful executives stack up now. On the list that follows, we rank the top 25 and present the rest in alphabetical order by sector.
The sands have certainly shifted since we made our last power list. Sure, Sir Lucian Grainge is still at the top of the heap, two years after we named him our executive of the last decade. But this year, there’s a very different reason for his No. 1 ranking: his leadership of Universal Music Group’s historic debut as a public company. It wasn’t just the largest direct listing in the history of the music industry, but one that has helped lift the boats of many music companies — including those of Grainge’s fiercest rivals.
All three major music groups soared as they raked in record-breaking revenue of their own and snapped up some of the indie world’s strongest labels. They also bought back rights to many of their catalogs, both recordings and publishing, in some cases paying a premium for rights they had previously given back to creators in exchange for extending their contracts so they can control more of the music that will drive returns for decades to come.
Music’s new investors became power players in their own right, too, such as billionaire Bill Ackman, whose investment entities had purchased 10% of Universal by September. Meanwhile, three of the world’s biggest private equity firms — KKR, Blackstone and Apollo Global Management — placed billion-dollar bets on music in the fall. KKR closed a deal to buy Kobalt Music Royalty Fund II; Blackstone bought a stake in Merck Mercuriadis’ Hipgnosis Song Management, while earmarking an additional $1 billion to buy music for a separate, private fund; and Apollo committed $1 billion to help Sherrese Clarke Soares’ new HarbourView Equity Partners buy assets like recording and publishing rights.