Layoffs Begin at Universal Music Group


As expected, layoffs began hitting Universal Music Group almost immediately after the company’s earnings call on Wednesday. The moves, which have been signaled by chairman-CEO Lucian Grainge since last fall, were still evolving at the time of this article’s publication, and follow the broad consolidation of the company’s labels under Interscope (West Coast) and Republic (East Coast) groups, under CEOs John Janick and Monte Lipman, respectively.

Sources say the majority of the layoffs, which are said to reach into the high hundreds, are hitting the West Coast, where many roles in the large Interscope and Capitol groups are being combined. A similar move is taking place on the East Coast, with Def Jam and Island moving under Republic, but those two labels have considerably smaller staffs than Capitol.

The departments most effected at press time include promotion and publicity, with sources saying catalog divisions and the U.K. are likely to be impacted as well.

While label chiefs are to remain in place, following the departure early this month of Capitol chair-CEO Michelle Jubelirer — who ironically was named Billboard’s Women in Music top executive just this morning — said to be leaving the company are longtime Interscope promotion execs Brenda Romano and Chris Lopes, whose roles will be filled by Capitol’s Gary Marella; in a related move, Def Jam’s Natina Nimene is said to be overseeing all urban promotion for that label as well as Republic, Island and Mercury.

Interscope head of publicity Cara Donatto is also said to be leaving the company; her role presumably will be filled by Capitol’s Ambrosia Healy. Def Jam’s longtime head of publicity Gabe Tesoriero is leaving the company as well; his role will presumably will be filled by Republic’s Joseph Carozza.

Sources (or the individuals themselves) tell Variety that multiple lower-level employees have been let go as well.

In the most recent of a long string of announcements, on Wednesday the company noted in its earnings report, “… a strategic organizational redesign which will generate [around $270] in annual run-rate savings by 2026, all of which is accretive to EBITDA, through a combination of headcount reduction and other operational efficiencies.

The “plan is designed to achieve efficiencies in targeted cost areas while strengthening labels capabilities to deepen artist and fan connections.”

Reps for the company either declined or did not respond to requests for comment; Variety will have more on this news as the situation develops.

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