Universal acquires mtheory’s label division; JT Myers and Nat Pastor to run UMG’s global artist services business

Universal Music Group just made a gigantic announcement encompassing several elements that, on their own, are each huge stories in their own right.

The first big part of the news is that Universal has acquired mtheory Artist Partnerships, the label division of US music company mtheory, founded in 2010 by widely respected executives, JT Myers and Nat Pastor.

Amongst the many reasons that UMG’s deal with mtheory is particularly interesting is that UMG hasn’t made a significant company acquisition in some time.

The deal also effectively serves as an ‘acqui-hire’, with mtheory’s founders being appointed as Co-CEOs of a new global division called Virgin Music Group that consolidates UMG’s artist services businesses.

Myers and Pastor will report to UMG Chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge.

What does this all mean for Ingrooves, the music distribution and marketing firm acquired by UMG in 2019?

According to UMG, Ingrooves will now be a subsidiary of Virgin Music Group, alongside mtheory Artist Partnerships.

The final piece of the puzzle is that Virgin Music Label and Artist Services, which was launched by Universal in 2021, will also fall under the new global division.

Effective immediately, all Virgin Music Label and Artist Services regional hubs will become part of the Virgin Music Group.

UMG says that they will operate “under a unified strategy while still leveraging the local A&R expertise and creative networks in their respective countries”. 

This includes Virgin Music Label & Artist Services in the US, which will transition from a division of Capitol Music Group to a standalone company serving all UMG’s US labels and partners.


In their new roles as co-CEOs of Virgin Music Group, Myers and Pastor are tasked with leading the expansion of UMG’s independent music capabilities across all of its business units and regions. They will also support UMG’s corporate business development activities.

Prior to co-founding mtheory in 2010, both Pastor and Myers held senior strategy and corporate development roles at Warner Music Group.

According to UMG, mtheory “creates aligned, equitable partnerships with artists, and employs an innovative global marketing approach to deliver outsized results, including more than 80 Gold and Platinum certifications in 23 countries worldwide”.

UMG notes that mtheory Artist Partnerships was the team behind Major Lazer’s hit single Lean On, the first fully independent track to reach No.1 on the US Top 40 radio chart. Other artists that mtheory works with include Tove Lo, Tom Odell, Empress Of, RL Grime, bbno$ and Porter Robinson.

mtheory is also well known as an artist management company, but its Manager Services business is not part of the UMG deal and will remain wholly independent, under the leadership of newly appointed CEO Cameo Carlson.

In addition, and as part of the transaction, mtheory will spin out its MPRS Global producer royalty administration platform, of which mtheory Co-Founder Jon McMillan will become CEO.

“Together with our frontline labels and global footprint, Virgin Music Group offers artists unmatched creative and commercial support.”

Sir Lucian Grainge

In making the announcement, Sir Lucian Grainge, said: “In order to remain the best home for artists and entrepreneurs we must drive innovation in our own businesses — offering new and high-quality resources for artists from all corners of the world while continuing to lead the industry’s transformation.

“Nat and JT’s track record for creating forward-thinking partnerships with artists that are built on a foundation of trust, creativity and business acumen is exactly the kind of leadership we want for the new Virgin Music Group division.

“Together with our frontline labels and global footprint, Virgin Music Group offers artists unmatched creative and commercial support.”

“Having worked with mtheory, I know that the vision for the growth of the industry that Nat and JT bring will be a great fit for UMG and our artists, today and in the future.”

Boyd Muir, UMG

Boyd Muir, UMG’s EVP, CFO and President of Operations, said: “Expanding the community of artists, labels and entrepreneurs with whom we work presents a significant opportunity for us, strategically complementing our labels and leveraging UMG’s existing world-class infrastructure.

“Having worked with mtheory, I know that the vision for the growth of the industry that Nat and JT bring will be a great fit for UMG and our artists, today and in the future.”

“mtheory was founded on the idea that we could transform the music industry by offering better, more aligned partnerships with artists.”

JT Myers 

Myers said: “mtheory was founded on the idea that we could transform the music industry by offering better, more aligned partnerships with artists.

“By bringing these incredible global teams and resources together, we have the opportunity to turbo-charge that vision, and deliver even more value to artists, labels and music entrepreneurs.”

“We are so thankful to Sir Lucian and Boyd for entrusting us with the iconic Virgin Music brand, one of the most successful independent labels in the industry’s history, as well as InGrooves, arguably the most sophisticated music technology platform in the world.”

Nat Pastor 

Pastor said: “We are so thankful to Sir Lucian and Boyd for entrusting us with the iconic Virgin Music brand, one of the most successful independent labels in the industry’s history, as well as InGrooves, arguably the most sophisticated music technology platform in the world.

“JT and I have worked together for over 20 years, and we’re thrilled to continue our journey to transform the music industry together, along with the InGrooves, mtheory and Virgin teams.”

Music Business Worldwide

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