Universal Music Group (UMG) could be shutting down its U.S. offices until 2021 in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Digital Music News was tipped off about the potential long-term closures with a legitimate-seeming internal memo. However, Universal Music Group hadn’t publicly confirmed the rumor or responded to our inquiry at the time of this writing.
Addressed to “All U.S. Staff,” the approximately 470-word-long letter appears to have been penned by UMG’s executive vice president of human resources, Gautam Srivastava, whose name appears at the document’s bottom. Srivastava joined Universal Music in 2016.
“At this point, it’s our best judgement that we will not have a widespread return to our U.S. offices at least through late January, 2021, if not longer,” reads the memo to stateside Universal Music Group employees.
From there, the text highlights the considerable increase in COVID-19 cases that some states – “including California and Tennessee,” where Universal Music is headquartered and operates UMG Nashville, respectively – are experiencing. Though the Big Three record label had planned for the safe return of employees, the memo states that “the environmental risks remain too great without a sustained decline in new cases and lower positivity rates.”
Lastly, the resource specifies that UMG is also planning to safely reopen its “recording studios and other facilities for commercial purposes,” including shooting music videos and conducting artist meetings. The company “will continue base pay for active, regular full-time employees” and full hourly compensation for part-timers, as it has done since the coronavirus pandemic’s domestic onset in March, per the memo.
Many companies – and particularly brands in the tech sector – have announced plans to allow employees to work from home until sometime next year. A Google spokesperson indicated this week that team members can remotely complete their assignments through at least July 2021. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that there’s “no end in sight” for his company’s remote operations, and Twitter has given its staff the green light to work from home for as long as they like. In May, we reported that Spotify employees would continue remotely fulfilling their job-related duties until 2021 at the earliest.
French conglomerate Vivendi revealed in its recently delivered Q2 2020 financial report that Universal Music Group turned in a more than six percent revenue uptick during 2020’s first six months, compared to the same period in 2019. Subscription and streaming income grew over 12 percent, while physical sales’ drop exceeded 22 percent (comparing the first six months of 2019 and 2020 once again).
More as this develops.