Universal Music Group Confirms Layoffs Following Reports — Still No Word on the Number of Affected Employees

universal music layoffs
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universal music layoffs
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Universal Music layoffs have been confirmed by a company spokesperson. Photo Credit: Jason Goodman

Following reports that Universal Music Group (UMG) would move forward with layoffs, the major label has confirmed a forthcoming personnel reduction.

We reported on the planned cuts – coverage of which was followed by a stock-price improvement for UMG – over the weekend. According to an initial article from Bloomberg, which cited “people with knowledge of the matter,” the leading music company intends to part ways with “hundreds” of team members.

Additionally, the same source, pointing to comments made by in-the-know individuals “who weren’t authorized to speak publicly,” relayed that UMG’s recorded music division would be hit hardest by the first-quarter layoffs.

While it remains unclear precisely how many employees (who numbered about 10,000 at 2022’s conclusion) will be affected, the profit-minded Universal Music has in fact acknowledged the imminent cutbacks.

Per a summary from Reuters, a UMG spokesperson noted that the professional home of Drake and Taylor Swift “will lay off some employees in 2024.”

Digital Music News reached out to Universal Music for a direct confirmation of the layoffs – and potentially details as to their exact extent. A representative from UMG Investor Relations only offered this terse statement: “At the moment, we don’t possess additional information beyond what has already been shared.”

In any event, it was only earlier in January that UMG head Lucian Grainge in an approximately 2,500-word memo to staff touted his company’s 2023 performance high points – eliciting criticism in the process.

Towards the end of the optimistic document – which was, of course, made available in its entirety via multiple outlets – the well-compensated exec briefly mentioned plans to “further evolve our organizational structure.”

“In 2024, as we continue our industry-leading investments in A&R and artist development,” reads the relevant sentence as published by Billboard, “we will 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.”

Given the layoffs confirmation’s timing, it appears that this organizational shuffle refers at least in part to the team-size reduction. “I promise 2024 will be an extremely exciting and transformative year for our company,” Grainge pledged in closing out the memo.

Needless to say, for those whose jobs are hanging in the balance, 2024 has, if anything, proven “exciting” for all the wrong reasons thus far. With the soon-to-be-made layoffs set in stone, it seems that UMG employees are still waiting in suspense for specifics.

At the time of this writing, no impacted person looked to have penned a social media or LinkedIn post on the subject, nor had any report indicated that the layoffs had been made official. Similarly, UMG hadn’t explained the cuts via a standalone announcement message.