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UMG Layoffs Quickly Commence Following Q4 Earnings Release — Affecting Mid-Level Team Members and Multi-Decade Execs Alike

universal music layoffs

A sparsely populated office. Photo Credit: Jason Goodman

Following ample speculation – and about six weeks after confirming a team-size reduction – Universal Music Group (UMG) has moved forward with substantial layoffs.

The major label’s personnel cutbacks initiated on the heels of the Wednesday release of its Q4 and full-year earnings report, which, as we noted, identified expected “strategic organizational redesign” savings of $270.93 million (€250 million) by 2026.

Needless to say, given the savings figure, that redesign – consisting of a “general headcount reduction” in the first phase and a 2025 second-phase “combination of further ex-US headcount reduction and other operational efficiencies” – will encompass a significant number of layoffs when all is said and done.

However, it remains unclear precisely how many individuals and roles the round will ultimately reach; relevant emails, LinkedIn posts, and other social-media updates from impacted professionals are few and far between at present. That’s presumably due to strict rules in place designed to prevent the public disclosure of possibly sensitive information, with severance packages seemingly tied to guarantees of confidentiality.

Even so, we aren’t without details about the Universal Music layoffs. First, one of the few LinkedIn posts penned by an affected (now-former) UMG team member suggests that the cuts have extended to the business’s little-discussed Bravado merch subsidiary, and particularly its social-media staff.

Next, the Chord Music Partners stakeholder previously described a reorganization plan centering on broadened roles for Republic’s Monte Lipman (in New York) and Interscope Geffen’s John Janick (based out of LA). And with the current layoffs revolving around this retooled framework – Janick unveiled several Capitol Music Group appointments in early February – a majority of the axed positions are said to involve team members in the west.

According to Variety, “dozens of lower-level employees have been let go,” with executives including nearly three-decade Interscope promotion president Brenda Romano, Chris Lopes (Interscope’s promotion EVP of about 26 years), Interscope communications higher-up Cara Donatto, and over 20-year Def Jam EVP of media and artist relations Gabriel Tesoriero reportedly exiting as well.

At the time of this writing, these execs didn’t appear to have updated their LinkedIn profiles to reflect the reported end of their association with the company. Bigger picture, UMG is, of course, hardly alone in trimming the size of its team – with Spotify, BMG, and an array of others in the industry having also implemented savings programs as of late.

Meanwhile, Warner Music Group (following hundreds of 2023 layoffs) is currently reducing its headcount by 10 percent and looking to offload HipHopDX as well as Uproxx. (On the other hand, Universal Music only recently took a stake in Complex.) Last month, the painful downsizing brought about roughly two dozen Atlantic Music Group layoffs.

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