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Record Labels

Layoffs Are Underway at Universal Music Group

Department heads in promotion and communications at Interscope and Def Jam are among those who have been let go.

A view of the Universal Music Group (UMG) headquarters is seen on Feb. 9, 2021 in Santa Monica, Calif.

A view of the Universal Music Group (UMG) headquarters is seen on Feb. 9, 2021 in Santa Monica, Calif.

VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

The layoffs and restructuring at the Universal Music Group have begun to take place, multiple sources tell Billboard.

As part of the new structure, several top executives have been laid off, Billboard can confirm. Interscope Geffen A&M president of promotion Brenda Romano is among those to have been let go, as well as Interscope’s executive vp/head of media strategy and communications Cara Donatto and Def Jam executive vp of media and brand strategy Gabe Tesoriero.


So far, Billboard has confirmed over two dozen layoffs across UMG labels, including Interscope, Republic, Capitol, Def Jam and Island.

The layoffs began shortly after Universal wrapped up its fourth quarter earnings call Wednesday, during which chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge confirmed a long-rumored “strategic organizational redesign” that would result in “reduced headcount” and “efficiencies.” A UMG spokesperson declined to say how many staffers would be affected by the cuts, but the company told investors that it expected to realize 250 million euros ($271 million) in annual savings by 2026 through the move. Universal saw 11.11 billion euros ($12 billion) in revenue in 2023, and reaped a net profit of 1.26 billion euros ($1.37 billion).

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The layoffs had been in the offing since last October, when Grainge mentioned that UMG would need to “cut to grow” in a Q3 earnings call, then said in a January New Year’s memo to staff that despite UMG being the “most successful company in the history of the music industry,” the company would “further evolve our organizational structure to create efficiencies in other areas of the business, so we can remain nimble and responsive to opportunities as they arise, while also taking advantage of the benefits of our scale.” A spokesperson then confirmed cuts were coming in a statement Jan. 12, after Bloomberg reported the company planned to cut “hundreds” of jobs in the first quarter of the year.

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Layoffs continued Thursday (Feb. 29), and some staffers speculated to Billboard that they may continue into Friday. There is no word on how many people were affected, nor any specifics in what departments they were, though in addition to promotions, publicity and A&R, at least some people in logistics, synch, international and commercial marketing were among the layoffs. Staff members from Republic, Interscope, Capitol, Island and Def Jam were among those laid off.

On Feb. 1, Grainge announced in an internal memo that Universal would be restructuring its label operations, adopting a loose East Coast-West Coast operation wherein Republic Records co-founder/CEO Monte Lipman would begin to oversee Republic, Def Jam, Island and Mercury, and Interscope Geffen A&M chairman/CEO John Janick would take responsibility for Interscope, Geffen, Capitol, Motown, Priority, Verve and Blue Note. Days later, Capitol Music Group chair/CEO Michelle Jubelirer announced she was stepping down from her post and was replaced by Geffen president Tom March as chairman/CEO of Capitol and Universal Music Publishing Group executive Lillia Parsa joining as co-president alongside Arjun Pulijal.

As part of the new alignment, and with Donatto and Tesoriero out at Interscope and Def Jam, respectively, it appears that Capitol Music Group executive vp/head of media strategy and relations Ambrosia Healy will now run corporate communications for the West Coast labels, and Republic Records executive vp of media and artist relations Joe Carozza will oversee corporate communications for the East Coast labels.

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Reps for UMG did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Additionally, reps for several individual labels either declined to comment or could not be reached for comment.

This story is developing.

This article was originally published by Billboard U.S.

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