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Power 50 - #4: George Ash

7 March 2019 | 6:25 am | Bryget Chrisfield

#4: George Ash - Universal Music Asia Pacific, President


Originally from New Zealand, George Ash's passion for music began through performing as a musician when he was a teenager. After holding positions at various companies including BMG NZ and PolyGram, Ash set up Universal Music NZ in 1995 before relocating to Australia in 2001 to become managing director of Universal Music Australia. Ash was then appointed president of Universal Music Australasia in 2010 before he became president of Universal Music Asia Pacific in 2013. He is also chairman of the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Ltd (PPCA) and a member of the ARIA Board of Directors.


After landing in Billboard's International Power Players list of 2017, Ash once again made the cut in 2018, one of only six high-profile Australian executives to sit among the 73 global names on the list. 

When you consider just a few of the labels that fall under Universal Music Group's umbrella – Decca, Dew Process, EMI, Republic Records, Interscope and Def Jam Recordings – it goes without saying that the company had a great 2018 in terms of releases. One of only two locals to top the ARIA Singles Chart in 2018, 5 Seconds Of Summer's seven times Platinum Youngblood single spent eight consecutive weeks at #1 (also topping the ARIA End Of Year Singles Chart). The Sydney band's album of the same name simultaneously debuted at #1 on the ARIA Albums Chart, with 5SOS becoming the first Australian act to top both charts at once since Gotye in 2011. Other significant UMG releases that topped the 2018 ARIA Albums Chart include Eminem's Kamikaze, Post Malone's Beerbongs & Bentleys, Drake's Scorpion and Kanye's Ye

Universal Music Group also had a massive year thanks to Queen, the film Bohemian Rhapsody and the band's single of the same name, which was officially announced as the world’s most-streamed song from the 20th century at the end of 2018. And then there was the A Star Is Born soundtrack, which became the year's longest running #1 on the ARIA Albums Chart after a ten-week stint and even robbed Michael Buble of his annual Xmas #1. 

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"2018 was a brilliant year for everyone at Universal Music Australia – our artists, our labels, managers and management partners. Our continued success proves that the enduring relationship between our labels and our artists remains vital to the development of artists’ long-term careers, and in breaking acts globally. The statistics for the year are undeniable, with record-breaking chart and platform shares right across our company. I am personally proud of the way our artists and labels competed on the global stage, delivering unprecedented success for Australian music."