Music industry layoffs on the horizon
There’s industry talk of a “Black Monday” on the horizon at several major record labels, including SonyBMG and Island DefJam, as reported
by Digital Music News. Now, we’ve learned, Geffen might also see the ax come down this week. According to several insiders, a significant portion of the staff may lose their jobs as part of a massive restructuring at Interscope/Geffen/A&M. The label would ostensibly be folded into market-share behemoth, Interscope — home to Gwen Stefani, Fergie, Sheryl Crow, and U2 — headed by Jimmy Iovine. It’s unclear what that would mean for artists like Ashlee Simpson and Mary J. Blige, who has a new album coming out on Dec. 14. Or for label chairman Ron Fair, the mastermind behind recent successes like the
Pussycat Dolls. All, we suspect, will have a future at
Interscope. (Representatives of the label declined to comment.)
Elsewhere in the Universal Music Group, Island DefJam executive VP of
promotion Greg Thompson left the company, it was announced on Friday, sparking chatter about a wider executive exodus.
As for SonyBMG, Digital Music News reports Columbia, headed by Rick
Rubin and Steve Barnett, will bear the brunt of a cut, but our sources say Epic’s future may be on the line as well. Or at least the Epic we’ve come to know, which has had recent successes by the likes of Sean Kingston and Good Charlotte. “It’s just tumbleweeds [at the Santa Monica offices],” says an insider who works out of the
Sony building. “At 3 in the afternoon, the lights
aren’t even on.” Adds another: “It’s the culture of an ever-shrinking business, which feels a lot of things are outsourceable.” Still, a senior Epic executive contends the label has already seen its major cuts go down “when no one was looking” and adds, “in six months to a year, who knows what will happen, but for now, Epic is a lean and mean frontline label that’s already a small, tight machine where the business plan functions.” On the formerly-known-as BMG side, Arista artists have already been divvied between Jive
(urban acts like Usher and Pink) and RCA (pop acts including Avril
Lavigne, Christina Aguilera, and Chris Daughtry), but we hear RCA may
also see some significant changes. (Reps for Columbia and Epic declined
to comment.) At least J Records can rest easy: Clive and Co. have a
platinum seller in Alicia Keys, with Whitney Houston on the way.