Mike Dungan, chairman/CEO of Universal Music Group Nashville (UMGN), is stepping down from his position in March after more than four decades in the music business and over 10 years in his current capacity, which began in 2012.
The well-respected and well-liked executive will continue to serve as an adviser to UMG chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge, with whom he has closely worked over the past decade.
Dungan goes out on top with UMGN at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Labels year-end chart. Additionally, UMGN’s Capitol imprint was No. 1 on Billboard’s year-end Country Airplay Labels chart. UMGN is home to such artists as Chris Stapleton, Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Mickey Guyton, Little Big Town, Alan Jackson and Brothers Osborne.
Cindy Mabe remains president of UMGN and is expected to take the helm, according to sources. She was not included in the announcement, and UMG reps had no official comment.
“For 43 years the music business has been my home — smiling, dialing, selling, hustling, laughing, doing my part to help the art and magic realize its potential. And loving every minute of it,” Dungan said in a statement. “I’ve lived a charmed life, and there are no words to describe how grateful I am, and how blessed I feel, for everyone that I have encountered along the way. I’m also proud to boast that through it all, with little exception, I have been ‘all-in’ as a competitor and as a friend.
“The solemn truth is that over time, that intensity takes its toll, and a lot of the dog has been knocked out of me. By the time I leave here I will be 69 years old. It is time to slow down — I look forward to devoting more time to my family and to my garden,” he continued. “I have an incredible wife who has put up with my nonsense for 45 years. We have two great kids who have two great wives of their own. And we have five wonderful grandkids who I intend to spoil to the fullest. I am forever grateful to Sir Lucian Grainge, who eleven years ago handed me the keys to the best job in the world. To him and to everyone at UMG, to all of those who have been my family-in-arms now and in the past, to all those creators whose art it has been my pleasure to represent…I am at a loss to express my love and gratitude. I am the luckiest man alive.”
Grainge added, “Mike is a unique force. He has had an incredible impact on the careers and well-being of so many in Nashville through the years — from artists to employees. After a brilliant four decades in Nashville, and with our team…well-positioned for continued strength, Mike is making an admirable and well-deserved life change. And while he won’t be serving in his CEO capacity, I’ve asked him to continue to contribute to areas that we’re both passionate about — breaking genre barriers and delivering critical support to artists past and present. I am deeply grateful to Mike for all he has done for our company and our artists and congratulate him on his unprecedented career success. I’m so pleased we will continue to have the benefit of his experience, deep relationships and wisdom.”
Sources say Dungan has been planning the move for a while — rumors had been circulating throughout Nashville for months about his departure — and had stopped actively signing acts since he would not be around to work them, but otherwise remained actively engaged.
Dungan began his career in the music business at 16 working at a Cincinnati record store. He then worked with RCA/BMG starting in 1979 as a pop music promotion rep, working his way up to senior vp of sales and marketing.
He later relocated to Nashville to work at Arista Nashville alongside Tim DuBois, rising to senior vp/gm. At Arista, he worked with acts including Brooks & Dunn and Jackson (who is now on UMGN).
In 2000, Dungan was named president of EMI Music’s Capitol Nashville, where he led the label for 12 years. Capitol was named Billboard’s “Country Label of the Year” for seven consecutive years between 2005 and 2012. He assumed his current title in 2012 following UMG’s purchase of EMI.
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