Universal Music's Lucian Grainge Gets Cannes Lions Honor

Sir Lucien Grainge - 2016 Power of Women Luncheon - Getty - H 2017
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"Today I hunt for brands, digital platforms and new thoughts in technology," said the former talent scout who is credited with saving the music biz.

If Lions is roaring, it’s about the music biz, with much of the buzz at this festival talking about the stepped-up music presence in Cannes.

On that note, Universal Group CEO Sir Lucian Grainge was the first music industry exec to receive the event's coveted honor since it was introduced in 1999.

Grainge, who brought the business back from the brink by focusing on talent and big events, dedicated his award to older brother and Ensign Records founder Nigel Grainge, who passed away 10 days ago.

“I hope you don’t mind, this is a big award for me,” said Grainge when dedicating the trophy to his late sibling.

The award was presented by Philip Thomas, CEO of Lions festival organizer Ascential Events, who said Grainge’s first-ever honor “says much about the convergence of entertainment with marketing and advertising.”

He continued: "[Grainge] has been a champion of new business models and fresh approaches. He is widely credited for laying the foundation that has led to the music industry’s recent return to growth after nearly a decade of decline."

Grainge said it was particularly significant for him to be chosen as the first music industry exec to be honored in the event's 18-year history,

“That means a great deal to me, and all of us,” he said. The exec went on to thank his staff, as well as often-controversial Vivendi chair Vincent Bollore. “[He] supported the endeavors of me and the entire team, and has enabled us to achieve the kind of success we are trying to achieve in this business,” said Grainge.

He also acknowledged how this new world of streaming songs has changed his outlook. Grainge started out as a talent scout, and while the same principles apply, he has only expanded his vision.

“Today I hunt for brands, digital platforms and new thoughts in technology as well as the great thinking to collectively pull that altogether for us,” said Grainge. “We are engaging a completely new generation of music lovers around the world on a scale like you’ve never seen.”