Yesterday morning, I wrote about the deeply suspicious behaviour of a number of “dark forces” within the music industry. They’re currently not very happy about people asking questions regarding the £150million that Universal Music Group’s boss Lucian Grainge is getting paid this year.
Quite why they’re feeling so triggered, to use that very modern expression, over this is telling. They’re behaving like apparatchiks who are keen to ingratitude themselves with the head of the mob by stamping down on any awkward questions about him. They must think they’re going Grainge’s bidding – bizarre logic, given my sources describe Grainge to me as a man not afraid to say what he thinks.
But let’s not be too hard on these people – at least for the next five minutes. Because they’re only doing what’s been happening within the music industry since its inception in the 1920s. From the earliest days of the music business, every aspect of the trade could be infiltrated by Mafia types.
Most musical equipment from vinyl, jukeboxes and for making the music in the first place was sold in cash. This made it extremely attractive for the Mafia, who found it easier to launder money and hide profits from the tax authorities. Venues associated with music, such as nightclubs, were also potential routes for the mob to pursue their nefarious activities.
Add in the fact vinyl is one of the easier things to counterfeit and you’ve potentially got even more profit there. It’s also worth bearing in mind a number of people previously in the business openly had links with the criminal world – Morris Levy, for example, had extensive links with the Genovese crime family.
Now, no one is suggesting that Lucian Grainge is running a crime syndicate here. The mere idea is daft – and somewhat undermined by the fact most business on record labels these days is digital, which makes it a lot easier to trace.
But when you see certain shadowy figures behind the scenes getting annoyed, just remember – it’s in the DNA of the industry they work in, even if things have changed over the years…