Tuesday's Music 2.0 Briefing: Nokia Universal Pact, Ted Cohen Joins En2Go, & Much More
Universal Bans Song Streams, Cuts Nokia Free Music Deal. WILL THE REAL DOUG MORRIS PLEASE STAND UP?

UPDATE: Layoffs At Universal, Sony BMG, Other Major Labels

We broke this story over the weekend, but here is the list to date of update on this year's Christmas layoffs at Island Def Jam, Sony BMG and elsewhere across major label and distributed labels.

Universal Universal's Island Def Jam
Cuts so far total about a dozen or 6% of the label's total staffing

  • Paul Pontius - A&R
  • Rob Stevenson - A&R
  • Greg Thompson - VP Of Promotion
  • Stolen Transmission - the entire label staff including founder Sarah Lewitinn. She vows to take the label indie and offers some personal insights on her blog
  • More cuts are rumored

Universal's Geffen

  • Unverified chatter on The Velvet Rope point to major staff cuts at Geffen with the label being reduced to imprint status

Sonybmg Sony BMG

  • reportedly up to 70 mid-level execs will be laid off before the end of the year
  • some appear to have already been notified


  • New owner Terra Firma has been clear with investors that major cuts are part of their re-organization strategy.  Deciding exactly where the cuts will come apparently will be the job of a new CEO which they hope to name by year's end.  That and the rumor mill point to January for EMI's layoffs. 

Wmg Warner Music Group

  • No specifics yet from Warners. But the company did tell investors on an earnings call last week that its was constantly reviewng its "capital structure".

COMMENTARY:  Expect end of the year layoffs to spread to other labels.  And as sad as it is to see good people loose their jobs, expensive executive suites have long been a drag on the industry.

Deeper cuts across major label marketing, promo, and sales departments are far more troubling.  At a time when labels are asking artists to sign broader 360 deals, they are also going to be less able to offer them the help they need to succeed.

The answer, however, is not just bulking up digital divisions with more VP's and SVP's as EMI is doing, but rather to hire more cost effective foot soldiers in all departments who understand technology and the fans and aren't afraid of the challenges ahead.

Sources: Original reporting, Silicon Vally Insider, Billboard.biz, Stolen Transmission, Radio Facts