Layoffs begin at Motown Records as the label changes course to return to the fold of Capitol Music Group.
Motown Records has had a rough year. After the exit of CEO and chairwoman Ethiopia Habtemariam in November, the label is now planning restructuring efforts under Capitol Music Group. As a result, layoffs have been initiated, with at least three high-ranking executives to be impacted.
“As Motown returns to the Capitol family, certain positions that had been created when we became a stand-alone label have since become duplicative,” says a spokesperson for Motown. “These employees are leaving the company, and our People, Inclusion, and Culture department is helping them find new opportunities — either within or outside of UMG.”
Founded in 1958 by Berry Gordy, Motown Records shaped the sound of popular music throughout the 1960s and 1970s. While it began as a stand-alone label, Motown has had several corporate parents within Universal Music Group over the past decades.
The latest iteration began in 2014 when Habtemariam took on the role of president of Motown alongside her executive position at Universal Music Publishing Group. That year, UMG dissolved the Island Def Jam Music Group and moved Motown to Los Angeles to operate out of the Capitol Tower. That dissolution led to a surge in signings and market share for Motown, resulting in its return to form as a stand-alone label in 2021.
Habtemariam’s time at the helm has led to the signing of Motown’s partnership with Atlanta’s Quality Control, which brought Lil Yachty, Lil Baby, City Girls, Migos, and more to the label. Though its recordings remain within the UMG family, Quality Control was recently acquired by Hybe America in a $300 million deal.
Motown is the latest music and media company to announce layoffs over the past few months. Amazon, Vox Media, Disney, TikTok, Meta, Spotify, Snap, Alphabet, Microsoft, and many more have all begun trimming jobs to combat the encroaching economic landscape and challenges across the technology sector.