UNIVERSAL MUSIC ENTERPRISE’S BRUCE RESNIKOFF CHATS ABOUT THE LAUNCH OF UMUSIC HOTELS, AN EXCITING NEW PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN UMG AND DAKIA U-VENTURES AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE LARGER VIVENDI GROUP.
In October, Universal Music Group announced its partnership with investment group Dakia U-Ventures to launch a new “music-based experiential” hotel brand UMUSIC Hotels, with plans to raise the hospitality bar for music fans across the globe.
With the first three properties under the brand set to open in Atlanta, Biloxi (Mississippi) and Orlando, Bruce Resnikoff, President and CEO of Universal Music Enterprise, says the unique collaboration is one with massive potential to reshape the hospitality industry.
Here, he tells us more about the brand’s plans to impact positive social change and innovation through music and how it will draw from the power of the wider Vivendi Group.
Why was a partnership between Universal Music Group and Dakia U-Ventures a good fit?
At UMG, our purpose is to shape culture through the power of artistry. Finding partners who share our vision is critical. When we first met with the team at Dakia a few years ago, we were immediately struck by their passionate belief that music has the power to transform communities. So, when we thought about what a physical manifestation of UMG could be in the hospitality area, we wanted to be sure that community impact and development was a key ingredient.
UMUSIC Hotels’ first three announced locations will be Atlanta, Georgia; Biloxi, Mississippi; and Orlando, Florida. Why did you stay away from renowned musical US cities like Nashville, Memphis, Detroit, New York or in New Orleans itself?
First, let me hasten to say that we’re not in any way suggesting we will not consider those other cities. The appeal of the first three was a combination of: a) having local partners that shared our vision; b) communities that would benefit from a development that would serve as a creative hub; and c) locations with unique and interesting stories to tell about music. There are many great music cities in the US. and around the world that fulfill those criteria and we’ll be looking at sites in many geographies.
The UMUSIC Hotels have been touted as “experiential hospitality”, what does this mean?
We believe there’s an opportunity to re-imagine what a music experience can be when you integrate live performance venues and state-of-the-art technology into spaces that make music come alive – and do so in a way that envisions a visitor being there not only to enjoy a particular show, but to stay for days or even weeks. Everything will be curated by artists and designers to create an authentic music experience, to the point where some of the hotels will actually include recording studios and other spaces where artists can create.
The project’s goal is to promote positive social change, education and innovation through the power of music. In what ways do you envision they will do so?
Partnering with local communities is a critical part of the project. We not only want to bring music and music education to these locations, but we want it to serve as a “home” for local talent. By hiring local people, working with local suppliers, supporting local businesses and operating in a sustainable and responsible way – as well as serving as a creative hub for the community – we believe it can serve as a catalyst for positive change.
UMUSIC Hotels plan to create immersive experiences for fans, guests and artists alike, how will this project elevate beyond offerings already on the market?
We see a space in the market for authentic, artist-driven experiences that are both performance-based and leverage the latest technological innovations. When you combine that with our incredible roster of artists and our unmatched catalogue of some of the greatest music ever created, there are countless opportunities for music-based experiences. But to be clear, these won’t be exercises in nostalgia or memorabilia. These will be living, breathing creative destinations for true music fans.
Are any other Vivendi companies part of the project?
There are clear opportunities for the Vivendi family. Havas, in particular, will be a great partner on these projects, especially given its global scale and its ability to connect brands and sponsors – not only with our artists, but also now with physical destinations that can be activated in countless ways.
The pandemic has limited international travel, isn’t this investment a brave move given the context?
No one knows exactly when, but we do know that the pandemic will end. So, if anything, this is the ideal time to reimagine what entertainment and hospitality will be post-pandemic. It also underscores the importance of being a catalyst of revitalization to many of the communities who are suffering.
UMG and Vivendi have said the project is born from a desire to continue to offer UMG artists, estates, labels and entrepreneur partners new ways to connect with fans and expand the range of commercial and creative opportunities available to them. How do you think UMUSIC Hotels will do this?
We’re thinking expansively. After all, UMG is so much more to artists today than solely a record label or music publisher. And as we continue to evolve as a company, we want to provide new and additional opportunities for artists in all aspects of their careers. In this case, that means creating a destination offering fans a truly immersive experience based on all forms of an artist’s creative expression – from music to visual art and limited-edition products. It some cases it might also tap into a philanthropic initiative that is central to an artist’s work. We see opportunities to amplify those types of projects in the local communities near the properties and raise funds and awareness there. Those are just a couple of examples, but they show you the breadth of opportunities we see.