Utopia Music makes layoffs as it downsizes global workforce

Mattias Hjelmstedt, founder, Utopia

Utopia Music has become the latest company to significantly cut the size of its global workforce.

The acquisitive Switzerland-headquartered company has confirmed to MBW that it has made a number of layoffs.

Sources suggest these cuts have primarily come in Utopia’s central team – including some high-level executives – as well as its tech-focused workforce.

To date, Utopia’s tech employees have been tasked with building the firm’s proprietary music monitoring platform, sometimes referenced as the ‘Utopia Open Platform’ (UOP).

MBW understands that Utopia’s global team numbers 1,200 people. That figure includes both contractors and around 800 employees.

A Utopia Music spokesperson told MBW today (November 24): “Like many growth companies in today’s macroeconomic environment, Utopia is making changes to its internal structure to optimize the business.

“We’ve grown rapidly in two years, organically and through 15 acquisitions. Now, we’re realizing cost synergies across these acquisitions and focusing on sustainable growth. These changes enable us to better serve the Music Industry and deliver Fair Pay for Every Play.

“Unfortunately, that means saying goodbye to some of our colleagues as part of this process. This isn’t a decision that was taken lightly and we greatly value the contribution of all our employees to Utopia’s journey so far.”

“We’ve grown rapidly in two years, organically and through 15 acquisitions. Now, we’re realizing cost synergies across these acquisitions and focusing on sustainable growth.”

Utopia Music spokesperson

Utopia is headed up by CEO Markku Mäkeläinen and was founded by Mattias Hjelmstedt.

Hjelmstedt previously founded media streaming startups Voddler and Magine.

News of job losses at Utopia follows a wave of layoffs sweeping across the tech-leaning side of the global music business.

Just last week, MENA-focused Spotify rival Anghami revealed that it was cutting 22% of its headcount. That followed the news in August of SoundCloud‘s reduction to its global workforce by approximately 20%.

US-based collection society BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc) also confirmed in August that it was laying off “just under 10%” of its total workforce.

Spotify was also reportedly reducing its new hiring earlier this year, while more recent online rumors have hinted at staff being let go from its talent team. There were also reports last month of podcast employees being laid off at SPOT.

Today’s news follows a hiring spree at Utopia over the past 14 months – which has taken place alongside an aggressive acquisition strategy.

That acquisition spree has included: UK warehouse, fulfillment, and distribution firm Cinram Novum; UK-based physical and digital music distributor Proper Music Group; and Absolute Label Services, another UK-based distribution and services provider for independent artists and record labels.

Earlier this year Utopia also acquired Liverpool-based music publisher and publishing administration company Sentric Music Group.

In December 2021 it acquired US-based music industry directory ROSTR and Austria-based music data analytics platform, ForTunes.

In October 2021, the firm bought Nashville-based financial services company, Lyric Financial and in September, Utopia bought Quincy Jones-backed emotional data enrichment company Musimap.

One of Utopia’s senior appointments this year was Ulf Zick, who exited his role as Managing Director, International at Universal Music Germany in April to join Utopia.

Last week we learned, that just six months after joining Utopia as Chief Marketing Officer, Zick’s announced he’s leaving the Swiss company for a job back at Universal.

In August, MBW reported that Utopia was attempting to raise €300 million in a Series C round that would value its company at €2.5 billion.Music Business Worldwide