The Recording Academy will present its prestigious Salute to Industry Icons award to Universal Music Group Chairman and Chief Executive Lucian Grainge in recognition of his contributions to the music business.
A pre-Grammy gala will be held Jan. 25 at the Beverly Hilton to honor Grainge, who has advanced the work of such major acts as ABBA, Jay Z, Elton John, Eminem, Metallica, Katy Perry, Rihanna, U2 and Amy Winehouse over the span of his more than three-decade-long career. (The 56th Grammy awards themselves will take place Jan. 26.)
"We are delighted and proud to pay tribute to Lucian Grainge, whose ability to spot talent and his impeccable business sense has made him one of today's most successful leaders," Recording Academy President Neil Portnow said in a statement.
Grainge has spent his professional career in the music business, making cold calls as an 18-year-old until he talked industry powerhouse CBS Records Chairman Maurice Oberstein into hiring him. That hustle would define his career, from his early days working as a talent scout through his elevation, in 2005, to chairman and chief executive of Universal Music Group International. He was named chairman and chief executive of Universal Music Group in 2011.
Confronted with piracy in the U.K., Grainge went on the attack -- becoming the first major label executive to sign a deal with satellite giant Sky for a legitimate online music subscription service. He has promoted similar initiatives around the globe.
During his tenure at the helm of Universal Music, Grainge led the $1.9-billion acquisition of EMI's recorded music business, and has worked to revitalize its storied Capital Records, home to such acts as the Beatles, Elton John and Katy Perry.
An unapologetic advocate for his industry, Grainge moved the music company's headquarters from New York to Los Angeles to be closer to the talent and technology that he believes will shape the industry's future.
Under his stewardship, the world's largest music company has achieved creative milestones -- becoming the first music company with nine of the top 10 songs on Billboard's digital charts, 10 of the top 10 tracks on the Billboard Hot 100, and nine of the top 10 albums in the U.S.
"We recognize that these charts are but snapshots of achievement," Grainge wrote in a congratulatory email to his staff. "But when you start to string one snapshot next to another and another and so on, the picture becomes pretty clear: You all are the best."
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