Universal Music Group is coming towards the end of a significant period of global restructuring, MBW understands.
One segment of UMG that has suffered some growing pains as a result is the Universal Music Group International (UMGI) division, which was/is based in London.
Following the departure of UMGi CEO Max Hole last year, UMG boss Lucian Grainge adopted a more direct globalized structure for the business.
In essence, this means that a bifurcated US/ex-US setup – in which all territories outside the States first report into an ‘international’ department in London – has been scrubbed.
Instead, UMG now operates with its global hubs around the world all reporting directly into UMG HQ in Santa Monica.
Lucian Grainge explained to staff: “[This] will enable us to anticipate and then adapt to the rapid changes in how music is created, distributed and ultimately experienced by flattening our organizational structure and replacing it with one that is truly global and directly reflects how the market has evolved.”
Around 50 UMGi roles in London have been affected, with the process starting last year and still going on.
There has been a lot of reshuffling: some of these staff are staying on temporarily, some are relocating to the US and some are leaving the company.
Meanwhile, separate restructuring was undertaken at Los Angeles-based Capitol Music Group in November/December last year.
MBW understands that around 35 jobs were cut during this period, including a string of promotions and marketing staff.
Prominent names believed to have gone included VP of Promotion Howard Petruziello, plus Marketing Director Matt Kroepel and VP of Publicity Juliana Plotkin.
A good proportion of these layoffs hit employees who had come over to UMG as part of its $1.9m EMI acquisition in 2012.
However, A&R resource at the Capitol Tower was protected and since been bulked up, with some of the headcount money saved presumably helping to hire former Sony hotshot Ashley Newton.
A third area of Universal to get a heavy bout of restructuring in the past 12 months was its US distribution division, UMGD.
In April last year, staff were informed that the major’s centralized sales and distribution function would no longer be defined as “UMGD” or limited to the role of “sales and distribution”.
Instead, it was re-organized into ‘teams based on much broader areas of commercial expertise’.
Although this process will likely have seen some layoffs, the reorganization also saw a number of key promotions for employees heading up newly-mapped departments.
These individuals are now steering service areas for clients including: Sales (led by Candace Berry), Brand Partnerships (Mike Tunnicliffe), Partnership Content (Cynthia Sexton), College & Lifestyle Marketing (Todd Goodwin), Integrated Rights (Christine Webby), Consumer Engagement (Peter Sinclair), Data & Analytics (Jason Kleve), Commercial Services Admin (Mavis Takemoto) plus CRM & Insights (Angela Sanchez & Alisa Olander).
In addition, Universal has been busy hiring big-name executives in roles to expand the company’s remit beyond traditional music channels – including digital strategy, film and television, branding and sponsorship, D2C and streaming playlisting.
Big recruitment moves have included:
- Nicola Levy joining UMG’s Santa Monica HQ as Global Head Of Business Affairs, Digital in April 2015;
- Jay Frank, who became the new boss of UMG’s playlisting strategy in the same month;
- Andrew Kronfeld being promoted to Executive Vice President, Marketing for UMG in November 2015;
- Former WMG digital adviser Michael Nash coming on board as EVP of Digital Strategy in the same month;
- Two renowned producers, David Blackman and Scott Landis, joining in January this year. They have agreed to lead UMG’s development and production of film, television and theatrical projects;
- Ashley Newton, who joined CMG as President in the same month – but also has a role as Executive Vice President of Creative/Special Projects at UMG, directly reporting into Lucian Grainge.
Music Business Worldwide