Substantial Layoffs at Concord Music Group…

This isn’t entirely surprising following the recent sale of the label to private equity interests. Then again, Concord Music Group is one of the largest, most influential indie labels on the planet, with one of the deepest and most respected catalogs and artist rosters.

Which brings us to this: according to a pair of sources close to the company, Concord Music Group has laid off approximately 20 employees across a number of different divisions.  One source estimates ‘upwards of 20,’ with another specifying ’18-20′.

After initially declining to comment for several days, Concord eventually responded with some appallingly bad spin.  A company representative, who asked not to be identified, first stated that the layoff amount was “very minor” and a “small adjustment” involving “several” individuals.  Eventually, after the first publication of this article, the spokesperson conceded that the number was “much closer to 10 than 20,” which suggests something in the lower double-digits.

A&R, legal, and art departments were cited as casualties by one source.  The representative confirmed that layoffs were spread across departments, but would not elaborate further.

As of late Friday, LinkedIn listed 132 employees for Concord Music Group.

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After the initial conversation (and subsequent publication of this article), the Concord representative heatedly demanded multiple changes, including a change to the title and the outright removal of the ‘big quote’ (see below).  “Take out that big quote,” the representative instructed.

The representative also repeatedly stated that this story was ‘inaccurate’ despite offering a similar layoff count, while noting that our sources were ‘flat wrong.’ “There’s no credibly to your site, this is the wrong way to go about journalism,” the representative stated.  “You’re not making any friends. We’re never going to talk to you ever again.”

Digital Music News placed several phone calls and emails during week prior to getting any official response.  Few changes were made to the initial story outside of layoff count specifics, though we have offered Concord an opportunity to publish their full version of events on Digital Music News.  So far, the label has declined.

This isn’t the first time a big label has been bought and sold.  But these days, it feels a little different: in March, Concord was purchased for roughly $120 million from Village Roadshow Entertainment Group by Wood Creek Capital Management.  Wood Creek is part of the MassMutual Financial Group, which according to a third source, makes perfect sense.  “Unfortunately, the ‘data wonks’ have taken over the business at all levels; it’s all about the spreadsheet,” the executive vented.

“Guts and emotion and passion have been taken out of the equation – and that’s a detriment to a business based on art.”

The hefty Concord Music Group roster spans some of the largest artists in the world, including Paul McCartney, Ray Charles, Chick Corea, and Paul Simon, not to mention recent Grammy winners like Esperanza Spaulding.  Concord’s deep jazz catalog also includes Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and Arturo Sandoval, among many others.

The company is based in Beverly Hills, CA.

4 Responses

  1. musicservices4less

    I have nothing to add to the “news” regarding this story. However, I think it would be fascinating to know how the purchase price of $120M for the label was derived. A 3x multiple of annual sales? 6x multiple of net profits? In this climate it would be a real education. BTW Paul, keep up the excellent journalism, the more pissed off they are the closer to the truth you are. I only wish the general media was more investigative like you and your staff!

  2. zog

    What do you expect somebody buying a record company for the music or the artist ?
    Why wasn’t this company purchased by artist and made into a non-profit that resorts back to the estates when each pass on?
    Then there would be some control for everyone involved, I would have hoped.
    This way music is made for musicians and people who love and support music, not just bean counters.What were they thinking when they bought this? (Where they buying this as a turn around and to make a quick buck?)
    Same old story the only one’s who suffer are the artist.

  3. Knob Twiddler

    I was thinking ‘Big equity firm buys label, slashes staff for instant profits…..OK, so what’s the story here?’ – but the fact that it’s a non-story, yet they’re ALL up in arms about it, does kinda smell funny. My guess is it’s just an aversion to the egg-on-the-facedness that accompanies any layoff announcement.
    For the record – isn’t Esperanza Spalding on Blue Note a/k/a/ an Universal/EMI property?

  4. Smitty

    Esperanza is part of the Concord Music Group, not Blue Note.