Doug Morris is the CEO and Chairman of Universal Music Group. He’s a bit old (68) and a bunch of people think that he’s crazy but he’s put his footprint on the music industry. In the new Billboard magazine, there’s a really long, insightful interview with him. You can also read it here. Below is a short excerpt from it:
Let’s talk about Universal Music Group. What have your highs and lows been this year?
The positive was that Lil Wayne became Lil Wayne, and the disappointment is that U2 will fall into next year. That would have been incredible to have, but you can’t put artists out until they’re done, and that’s certainly the way it should be.
The U2 camp must have felt pretty strongly, because the band had recorded a lot of songs for this album. What did Iovine think of what he had heard?
He thought it was marvelous. But he’s not the answer. The answer is the group. If the group thinks they can make it better, they make it better. It’s just such an important worldwide act that it has to be what they want it to be.
I’d like to take a step back and talk about your history for a bit. Tell me about your earliest days.
I started as a songwriter, when I was in college, and I loved that. My father was a lawyer, and my mother was a dancing instructor, a ballerina. And I was a songwriter, and the basic question in the family was, “Who’s going to take care of Doug?” You know, when you have a passion for it and nothing can get in your way-that’s how I felt about it. I still feel the same way.
I first started with Lou Levy, and then I worked for Robert Mellin, it was a publishing company. He wrote songs like “Twist and Shout,” “Take a Little Piece of My Heart,” just an incredible guy. And then [in 1965] I went to work for Laurie Records, a small independent company that had artists like the Chiffons, Dion & the Belmonts . . . and I learned the music business, the record industry, very quickly. You need a great record. That’s all you need.
You need something that somebody’s going to react to and like. Once you really see it in action, it never fails. There are certain rules in the business that never change.
Make sure to read the rest of the interview here