Universal Music Starts an In-House Data Division to 'Gain an Edge'

Universal Music UK has announced that it is launching a new division that will focus on data science, research and strategy.

According to Billboard, the company is opening the division in the hope that it will give both its artists and its labels a distinct advantage in a highly competitive digital world. It says that the division will lie at “the intersection between big data, human insight, strategy and creativity.”

The new division is being called The Square, and they will work out of the company’s London headquarters. Its managing director will be Jack Fryer. Previously, he was the senior director of strategic planning at Universal Music UK, and he will report to David Hawkes, who is the managing director of the company’s commercial and creative services division.

Fryer sees the new division as being more of a collaborative network than a centralized service, and he believes that it will build upon the company’s current research and planning resources.

Others joining the division include:

  • Jon Fell and Simon McMahon (senior strategists)
  • Alexandra Dodd (audience researcher)
  • Lewis Millar (data scientist)
  • Charlotte Thomson (international research and strategist)
  • Arslaan Ahmed (junior strategist)
  • Helen Kennedy (creative strategist)

David Joseph, who is the chairmen of Universal Music UK, issued a statement in conjunction with the announcement.

He called Fryer an “exceptional executive” and a “truly creative thinker” while adding, “His vision is for The Square to be a place that our labels, our managers and our artists come to gain an edge – whether that’s simply about learning something new, shaping a strategy or forging a new idea.”

Fryer himself issued a statement. He said, “We want to be a 21st Century service for a 21st Century music company,” and he added that “Insightful ideas, strategic ideas, useful ideas, audience ideas, progressive ideas, driven ideas, creative ideas, communication ideas, business ideas, innovative ideas are our currency.”

Universal Music made a few weeks ago when it officially concluded the sale of a minority interest to Tencent.