Doug Morris is Chief Executive Officer of Sony Music Entertainment. Widely regarded as the most influential music executive in the industry, he is responsible for guiding the overall global activities of the worlds second largest music company. Sony Music is a leader in the global recorded music business with a current roster that comprises a broad array of both local artists and international superstars, including Adele, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Bruce Springsteen, Carrie Underwood, Daft Punk, Justin Timberlake, P!nk and One Direction. The company boasts a vast catalog that comprises some of the most important recordings in history. It is home to premier creative centers representing music from every genre, including Columbia Records, Epic Records, Legacy Recordings, Masterworks, RCA Records, Sony Classical, Sony Music Latin and Sony Music Nashville.
Prior to joining Sony Music, Mr. Morris was Worldwide Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s largest music company. Under Mr. Morris’ direction, UMG became the music industry’s most successful music company, leading the industry in market share for 14 consecutive years, with a roster of superstars such as Lady Gaga, U2, Black Eyed Peas and Kanye West, along with successful newcomers Rihanna and Justin Bieber. During that time, he oversaw UMG’s rapid evolution from a record company into a full-fledged music entertainment company, from simply being vendors to active partners with businesses looking to use music as the foundation of their products and services. He built UMG into an industry leader in effectively leveraging core assets to create lucrative new revenue streams, forging precedent-setting deals with YouTube, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Nokia, MySpace, imeem, MOG, BuzzNet and Last.fm, among many others.
A graduate of Columbia University, Mr. Morris began his music career as a songwriter for music publisher Robert Mellin, Inc. His credits include the Chiffons’ 1966 hit “Sweet Talkin’ Guy” and producing such hit records as Brownsville Station’s “Smokin’ in the Boys Room.” Mr. Morris joined Laurie Records in 1965 as a writer and producer and was eventually named Vice President and General Manager. Later, he launched his own label, Big Tree Records, which was distributed and eventually acquired by Atlantic Records in 1978. At this time Mr. Morris was named President of ATCO Records, beginning a 17-year association with Warner Music.
In 1980, Mr. Morris was appointed President of Atlantic Records and assumed the position of Co-Chairman and Co-CEO (with Ahmet Ertegun) of the Atlantic Recording Group in 1990. At Atlantic, Mr. Morris played a key role in transforming the label into the number one company within the Warner Music Group and the premier company within the music industry. As part of his strategy for growth, Mr. Morris revamped the division labels into completely autonomous units (each supporting a variety of imprints); established co-venture deals with such renowned labels as Interscope, Rhino, and Matador; and created Time Warner Audiobooks in partnership with Warner Books. He also established Atlantic Nashville, launched EastWest Records and created A*Vision Entertainment, a leading home entertainment unit. Mr. Morris was promoted to President and Chief Operating Officer of Warner Music U.S. in 1994 and, soon after, was named Chairman.
Mr. Morris began his association with the MCA Music Entertainment Group (now Universal Music Group) in July 1995 by forming the joint venture Rising Tide Entertainment. Upon Mr. Morriss appointment as Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group in November 1995, the joint venture became wholly owned by Universal Music Group and was re-named Universal Records. The full-service label, under the direction of Mr. Morris, quickly became one of the industry’s most successful start-up recording companies.
While leading Universal Music Group, Mr. Morris energized the company by attracting and recruiting many of the music industry’s most talented executives. With the acquisition of PolyGram in 1998, Mr. Morris was directly involved with the restructuring and integration process to create the worlds largest music company. Under his leadership, Universal Music Group dominated the musical charts as the industry’s leader, setting new records for revenues and market share in the U.S. and on a global basis.
Throughout his career, Mr. Morris has worked in many different capacities with some of the most popular and influential artists of the past four decades, including The Rolling Stones, Phil Collins, Pete Townshend, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Nicks, Bette Midler, Tori Amos, INXS, Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder and U2, among many others.
Under Mr. Morris’ direction, UMG garnered double-digit increases in digital sales, with overall revenues growing while much of the rest of the industry declined. Bold acquisitions of BMG Music Publishing and Sanctuary fueled growth in music publishing and merchandising, with digital sales and higher licensing fees off-setting the decline in physical sales. UMG also led in market share in every major genre, including Latin, Rap, R&B, Soundtracks, Top-Sellers, Jazz, Classical, Country, Alternative, Deep Catalog, Catalog and Rock. And by offering MP3s for sale, UMG’s leader helped launch both Amazon’s and Wal-Mart’s digital music stores.
Moreover, under Mr. Morris’ leadership, UMG’s Universal Music Publishing Group became the worlds largest music publisher after its $2 billion acquisition of BMG Music Publishing, Universal Music Group Distribution created a successful indie arm in Fontana, and the company entered the filmed entertainment arena with Vivendi Entertainment, a full-service company that provides distribution services including theatrical releasing, home entertainment, digital delivery and television. In addition, Universal Music Latin Entertainment became the biggest Latin music company with the acquisition of Univision Music Group, and UMG’s acquisition of Sanctuary Group provided the company with management and booking expertise, as well as a lucrative merchandising and artist service division in Bravado, which features products from such clients as Kanye West, Gwen Stefani, Beyoncé, Elton John, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Iron Maiden, Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera and Eminem, among many others. UMG has also entered the burgeoning business of classical music artist management and production, forming Universal Music Classical Artists Management & Productions, in order to develop careers, create distinctive live events and build long-lasting brands.
Mr. Morris’ progressive digital strategies led him to become the first media executive to monetize online music videos, essentially helping to create the music video-on-demand market online. And nowhere is this more apparent than with the success of VEVO.
As the Founder (and former Chairman) of VEVO, Morris partnered with Google Chairman Eric Schmidt to launch the new premium music video and entertainment service in late 2009. Within its first month of launch, VEVO amassed an unprecedented 35 million unique viewers in the U.S., instantly making it the #1 music entertainment destination on the Web, according to comScore. Today, VEVO continues to rank as the top music entertainment destination in the U.S. VEVO is also a major presence around the world, with its videos accessible in over 200 countries, operations in 14 countries and over 700 major brand advertising partners.
In 2013, Mr. Morris served as co-producer and lead financier of the smash Broadway musical “Motown: The Musical.” Based on the life story of legendary Motown founder Berry Gordy, and featuring classic songs from the Motown catalog, “Motown: The Musical” was nominated for four Tony Awards and was the top-selling new musical of the 2012-2013 season.
Mr. Morris serves on the Board of Directors of CBS Corporation, The Robin Hood Foundation, The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and The Rock -N- Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. In 2003, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) awarded Mr. Morris with the President’s Merit Award, honoring his consistent creative commitment to artistic and entrepreneurial excellence and longstanding support for the music and world communities. In 2008, Mr. Morris was honored with City of Hope’s Spirit of Life award, and in 2009, he received the NARAS Icons award, as well as a star on the world-famous Hollywood Walk of Fame.