Doug Morris

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Doug Morris
Doug Morris in January 2010
Born (1938-11-23) November 23, 1938 (age 83)
EducationColumbia University (BA)
OccupationRecord executive
Years active1960s–present

Doug Morris (born November 23, 1938) is an American record executive. He is the current chairman of 12Tone Music Group. He previously served as chairman and CEO of the Universal Music Group from 1995 to 2011 and Sony Music Entertainment from 2011 to 2017.

Life and career[edit]

Born to Jewish parents,[1] Morris grew up in Woodmere, Long Island, in New York state.[2] His father, Walter Bernard Morris, was a lawyer and his mother was a ballet instructor.[2] He is a graduate of Columbia University.[2] He began a career in the music industry as a songwriter for Robert Mellin, Inc., a music publisher. In 1965, Morris produced the self-titled debut album by the now-legendary garage band The Barbarians, which spawned two hits singles: "Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl" and "Moulty", the latter of which Morris co-wrote.[3] Morris wrote "Sweet Talkin' Guy", a 1966 hit for The Chiffons, and produced the hit "Smokin' In the Boys Room" (1973) for Brownsville Station. After joining Laurie Records as a songwriter and producer in 1965, Morris eventually became vice-president and general manager of the record label. He later started his own label, Big Tree Records, which was acquired by Atlantic Records in 1974, which led to Morris becoming president of Atco Records and an association with Warner Music.

Morris became president of Atlantic Records in 1980, and became co-chairman and co-CEO of the Atlantic Recording Group, alongside Ahmet Ertegun, in 1990. Morris played an integral role in making Atlantic the leading company in the Warner Music Group. In 1994, Morris shifted to the position of president and chief operating officer of Warner Music U.S., and was soon named chairman. Morris lost an executive battle at Warner leading to his departure from Warner Music in 1995.[4]

Career at Universal Music Group[edit]

Morris began working with MCA Records in July 1995 by forming a joint venture record label, which became Universal Records when Morris was appointed chairman and CEO of MCA Music Entertainment Group in November 1995. The company was renamed Universal Music Group the following year. He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; his ceremony was held on January 26, 2010, at the corner of Hollywood and Vine.[citation needed]

Morris was heavily criticized by music journalists for his approach to streaming services, especially the infamous PressPlay.[5]

Lucian Grainge replaced Morris as CEO on January 1, 2011, and later replaced him as chairman on March 9, 2011.[6]

Sony Music Entertainment chairman and CEO[edit]

Morris became chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment on July 1, 2011.[7] After Morris' arrival, Sony Music restructured two of its label groups. The RCA/Jive Label Group had been split in half, being separated from the Jive Label Group. Peter Edge was promoted to CEO of the RCA Music Group.[8] L.A. Reid became the chairman and CEO of Epic Records shortly after Morris' arrival. Some Jive artists have been moved to Epic while others have been moved to the RCA. In addition to splitting the RCA/Jive Label Group, the Columbia/Epic Label Group was also split.[9] In October 2011 Morris announced that Mel Lewinter had been appointed executive vice president of Label Strategy at Sony Music.[10] On April 1, 2017, he was replaced as CEO of Sony Music Entertainment by Rob Stringer, who was the CEO of Columbia Records.[11][12]

12Tone Music Group[edit]

In 2018, Morris founded the label 12Tone Music Group under Warner Music Group.[13] His first signing to the label was grammy award winning rapper Anderson .Paak.[14]

Founder of VEVO[edit]

Morris's progressive digital strategies led him to become the first media executive to monetize online music videos, essentially helping to create the music video-on-demand market online.[15] And nowhere is this more apparent than with the success of VEVO.

As the founder (and former chairman) of VEVO, Morris partnered with Google chairman Eric Schmidt to launch the new premium music video and entertainment service in late 2009. Within its first month of launch, VEVO amassed an unprecedented 35 million unique viewers in the U.S., instantly making it the #1 music entertainment destination on the Web, according to comScore.[16][17]

Motown: The Musical[edit]

In 2013, Morris served as co-producer and lead financier of the Broadway musical "Motown: The Musical". Based on the life story of legendary Motown founder Berry Gordy, and featuring classic songs from the Motown catalog, "Motown: The Musical" was nominated for four Tony Awards[18] and was the top-selling new musical of the 2012–13 season.[19][20]

Awards and leadership[edit]

Morris serves on the board of directors of CBS Corporation, The Robin Hood Foundation, The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and The Rock -N- Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. In 2003, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) awarded Morris with the President's Merit Award, honoring his consistent creative commitment to artistic and entrepreneurial excellence and longstanding support for the music and world communities. In 2008, Morris was honored with City of Hope's Spirit of Life award, and in 2009, he received the NARAS Icons award as well as a star on the world-famous Hollywood Walk of Fame.[21] In 2014, Morris was honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame with the Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award in recognition of being a star maker in the music industry who has been responsible for a substantial number of hit songs.[22] In 2015, he received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music in recognition of his achievements and influence in music, and for his enduring contributions to American and international culture.[23]


  1. ^ "Tori Amos - Inclusive variations". Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Hond, Paul. "Doug Morris: The Greatest Hits". Columbia Magazine. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  3. ^ Viglione, Joe. "Victor Moulton". AllMusic. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  4. ^ "Doug Morris Biography". Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  5. ^ "How Record Labels Screwed Up The Music Industry, And How Spotify, Apple Saved Them". May 29, 2018.
  6. ^ "Vivendi Appoints Lucian Grainge Chairman & CEO of Universal Music Group". Billboard. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  7. ^ Doug Morris (March 2, 2011). "Doug Morris Named CEO Of Sony Music Entertainment, Effective July 1". Billboard. Retrieved March 6, 2011.
  8. ^ "Peter Edge Appointed CEO of RCA Music Group". Billboard. August 8, 2011. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  9. ^ "L.A. Reid to Run Restructured Epic Records". Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  10. ^ "Mel Lewinter Named EVP of Label Strategy for Sony Music Entertainment". Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  11. ^ "Rob Stringer Promoted to Chief Executive Officer of Sony Music Entertainment". October 18, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  12. ^ Christman, Ed (March 24, 2017). "A Sendoff to Sony Music Chief Exec Doug Morris: 'Doug-isms' & Lessons Learned From Iovine, Lipman & Others". Billboard. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  13. ^ Shrley Halperin, Jen Aswad (March 28, 2018). "Doug Morris' New Label to Be Based in New York Times Building (EXCLUSIVE)". Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved November 4, 2018.
  14. ^ "Anderson.Paak Pacts With Doug Morris' New 12 Tone Label". Renske Business Media LLC. March 27, 2018. Retrieved November 4, 2018.
  15. ^ "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. Retrieved December 28, 2018. {{cite news}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  16. ^ Leonard, Devin (February 7, 2013). "Sony Music CEO Doug Morris Is Streaming Big". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  17. ^ "VEVO Was Most Trafficked U.S. Entertainment-Music Web Network in December 2009". Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  18. ^ "Motown The Musical". Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  19. ^ Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson. "Hitsville revisited - 'Motown: The Musical'". Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  20. ^ "'Motown' Breaks Broadway Musical Preview Records". The Wall Street Journal. April 1, 2013. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 24, 2011. Retrieved June 29, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ Songwriters Hall of Fame (March 12, 2014). "Doug Morris To Receive Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award". Retrieved June 26, 2014.
  23. ^ Berklee College of Music (April 14, 2015). "Julio Iglesias, Doug Morris, Harvey Mason, Dee Dee Bridgewater to Receive Honorary Degrees". Retrieved May 11, 2015.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Rolf Schmidt-Holtz
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Sony Music Entertainment
July 1, 2011-April 2017
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Chief Executive Officer of Universal Music Group
November 1995 to January 1, 2011
Succeeded by