A “TRUE MENSCH”
GETS HIS DUE

UMG General Counsel/EVP of Biz & Legal Jeff Harleston was the honoree at the Recording Academy's Entertainment Law Initiative Lunch in Santa Monica on 1/24. The gathering was an official Grammy Week event.

Sir Lucian Grainge introduced the honoree with strong praise. Throughout a time of extraordinary change, he said, "there have been two constants. First: amazing artists, making great music. Second: Jeff Harleston’s extraordinarily sound judgment. UMG would not be the company it is today without Jeff’s insights, instincts and expertise." The UMG boss also extolled Harleston as negotiator, mentor, volunteer, relationship builder and "true mensch."

A brief tribute video ensued, and then the honoree delivered some remarks of his own.

The 27-year Universal veteran noted,"“I stand here today on what I believe is the 22nd ELI lunch, I believe I am the first African American to be honored. Five or six years ago, Julie Swidler was the first woman to be honored." Harleston pointed to these benchmarks as indicators that "the constant is change," something he has observed often in his lengthy tenure at the company.

"The UMG management team in particular — Sir Lucian, Boyd Muir, Jody Gerson, my Ares sister Michele Anthony, Gautam Srivastava, Michael Nash, Andrew Kronfeld, Adam Granite and Bruce Resnikoff, among many others who are there for me every day, who have been incredibly supportive and incredibly tolerant," Harleston said. "They calm me down when I get excited, and for those of you who know me, that happens once on a rare occasion, but it does happen."

He also had words of gratitude for his legal community. "It’s a really nice group of people," he said. "It’s a welcoming group of people. And most importantly it’s a supportive group of people." Amid what he and Grainge call "the Great Disruption," he added, "a lot of people in this room worked very hard and continue to work very hard" to build the new ecosystem. "We move things forward legislatively; we empower new services that are finding ways to bring our music and our artists’ music to places they have never been before," Harleston insisted. "It’s because we have allowed ourselves to respect each other and trust each other."

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