The Brag Media
News November 14, 2022

Karen Don to Exit Universal Music Australia

Senior Journalist, B2B
Karen Don to Exit Universal Music Australia

Karen Don is exiting Universal Music Australia after more than two decades with the company.

Based in Sydney, Don currently serves as senior VP, legal & business affairs for the Universal labels and music publishing companies in Australia and NZ.

Her departure brings to an end a 23-year run with the company, which began in 1999, initially as director, legal and business affairs.

Prior to that, she was senior lawyer with the Sydney Olympic Broadcasting Organisation, and senior lawyer with ARIA for a two-year stint before that.

“I have so enjoyed working with you all,” she writes in an international message to staff, seen by TMN

“I have learnt lots and had heaps of fun! There have been so many high points over the years (including that win against Clive Palmer!), but I am especially proud of working with our domestic labels to sign so many fantastic local artists and writers.”

Don has led UMA’s legal and business affairs team on both sides of the Tasman since 1999, and currently serves as a board director for ARIA.

During her time with Universal, Don admits she’s lost count of the “many hundreds of agreements” she negotiated and signed, and speaks of the privilege of playing a part in the success of Lorde, Troye Sivan, Tame Impala, Baker Boy, the Hilltop Hoods, and others.

Career highlights, she adds, include working across strategy, artist and writer agreements, acquisitions, digital technologies, merchandise, brands, data and litigation.

“Karen’s contribution to the success of Universal in Australia and New Zealand is enormous,” comments Universal Music group’s general counsel and executive vice-president of business & legal affairs, Jeff Harleston.

She’s “an excellent lawyer and a highly successful executive, well-liked and respected throughout UMG and the broader music industry community,” he continues.

Don “has worked hard to bring about positive cultural change at UMA, and we thank her for that. We will miss her and wish her nothing but continued success going forward.”

According to a corporate statement on her departure, Don will “pursue different and personal opportunities.”

As she prepares for her next challenge, Don reflects on the role she played in a shakeup at the company, one that kicked off during the pandemic and has triggered multiple investigations into workplace culture.

“I’m also proud of my work to make UMA a safer and more inclusive place for its people. I look forward to seeing that work continue,” she continues.

“To allow that to happen, speak up, raise your voices and be part of the change.”

UMG appointed Darren Perry from law firm Seyfarth Shaw in August 2021 to lead the initial investigation, with the process concluding just three months later. 

In June of this year, TMN reported a fresh probe into the Australian operations, led by UMG’s Los Angeles-based executive vice president and chief people and inclusion officer, Eric Hutcherson

Don is expect to leave the company at the end of this week, though she says she doesn’t “yet know where my next adventure lies.”


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