Universal Music Group Named to Fast Company’s Annual List of World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2024

UMG also ranked No. 1 in Music category

UMG recognized for industry leadership in generative AI and for pioneering artist-centric approach to streaming

SANTA MONICA, March 19, 2024 —Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music-based entertainment has been named to Fast Company’s prestigious list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2024. This marks the second time in five years that UMG has been named to the exclusive list – a first for any major music company. This year’s list shines a spotlight on businesses that are shaping industry and culture through their innovations and setting new standards and achieving remarkable milestones in all sectors of the economy.

UMG is also ranked No. 1 in the music category.

In recognizing the achievements of the company over the past 12 months, Fast Company pointed to the ways that UMG, under the leadership of Chairman & CEO Sir Lucian Grainge has advocated for a healthier and sustainable music ecosystem in which artists and songwriters can thrive for decades to come and which approaches AI in a responsible manner. One that better values artistry and aligns the relationship between artists and fans, with the value they bring to platforms.

“While many music industry veterans greeted the arrival of generative AI last year with dread, Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s largest music company, saw opportunity. The parent company of such labels as Interscope, Geffen, and Def Jam has been coordinating the industry’s response to the technology while working behind the scenes to rewrite the way streaming royalties work—and doing both under the banner of finding artist-centric solutions to the threat of AI.”

Fast Company added that:

“[Universal Music Group] played an instrumental role in bringing together a coalition of 150-plus organizations both in and outside the industry last year for the Human Artistry Campaign (HAC), which established a framework for the responsible use of AI for creative endeavors while respecting copyrights and artists’ likenesses. UMG has since used that policy structure to lobby Congress for stronger AI regulation; sue AI startup Anthropic for using copyrighted song lyrics to train its models, which also generate protected lyrics; and guide strategic partnerships that take advantage of the technology. Last August, UMG and YouTube unveiled their AI Incubator, which will jointly develop tools with a range of UMG artists, from the Frank Sinatra estate and John Legend to Charli XCX and Troye Sivan. In October, AI-powered music creation platform BandLab signed on to the HAC principles, pledging to work with UMG to prioritize artists in its music-making tools.”

Fast Company also highlighted UMG’s work to introduce a new artist-centric approach to streaming:

“At the same time, UMG has cannily used the flood of music onto steaming platforms to essentially break the royalty model that has become entrenched over the past decade. It worked with French music streamer Deezer last year to win a double royalty boost for artists who receive more than 1,000 streams per month from 500-plus listeners, while demonetizing white-noise content. After launching initially with only UMG artists, Deezer’s artist-centric model is now being used for more than half of its catalog. In January, Spotify adopted a similar payment scheme that sets a 1,000-streams-per-year threshold for paying royalties to artists.”  

Alongside the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies, Fast Company recognizes 606 organizations across 58 sectors and regions. Fast Company‘s editors and writers identified the companies driving progress around the world and across industries. The result is a globe-spanning guide to innovation today, from early-stage startups to some of the most valuable companies in the world.


At Universal Music Group, we exist to shape culture through the power of artistry. UMG is the world leader in music-based entertainment, with a broad array of businesses engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content. Featuring the most comprehensive catalogue of recordings and songs across every musical genre, UMG identifies and develops artists and produces and distributes the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful music in the world. Committed to artistry, innovation and entrepreneurship, UMG fosters the development of services, platforms and business models in order to broaden artistic and commercial opportunities for our artists and create new experiences for fans. For more information on Universal Music Group, please visit www.universalmusic.com


Fast Company is the only media brand fully dedicated to the vital intersection of business, innovation, and design, engaging the most influential leaders, companies, and thinkers on the future of business. Headquartered in New York City, Fast Company is published by Mansueto Ventures LLC, along with our sister publication Inc., and can be found online at www.fastcompany.com.