Universal Music Layoffs Revealed

29 February 2024 | 9:56 pm | Ellie Robinson

The major’s internal “redesign” is said to be saving them more than $124.6 million.

Universal Music Group

Universal Music Group (Supplied)

Universal Music Group (UMG) has confirmed plans to downsize its staff in the coming months as it looks to “redesign” its operations in a cost-cutting measure.

UMG made the call in a press release yesterday (February 28), detailing its aim to save €75 million ($124.6 million AUD) over the course of this year. The company hopes to achieve this through “a combination of headcount reduction and other operational efficiencies”.

UMG says this penny-pinching now will help the company save even more in the coming years, with their savings projected to expand to €125 million in 2025, then €250 million by the end of 2026. The plan, it’s explained, is “designed to achieve efficiencies in targeted cost areas while strengthening labels capabilities to deepen artist and fan connections”.

This isn’t to say UMG is particularly “struggling” on the financial side – it brought in €3.2 billion ($5.36 billion) in revenue last year, up nine percent from its 2022 pull (which saw UMG rake in a healthy €2.94 billion, or $4.91 billion). CEO Lucian Grainge also kept bread on the table with “earnings” of €47 million in 2022 (which included his base salary of some €15.4 million).

UMG has not publicly stated how many staffers it plans to lay off. But it’s a shift in course for the company, the headcount for which had grown steadily each year since 2016 – it had a staff of 7,547 then, and grew to 9,992 at the end of 2022.

Initial whispers of UMG’s job-shaving efforts emerged last month, when it was reported the major’s recorded music division “will be hit the hardest”. It wasn’t surprising, though, as Boyd Muir – UMG’s EVP and CFO – confirmed last October that the company would be “cutting to grow” in 2024. He said at the time, “[We] are currently conducting a careful review of our cost base, which we will complete over the coming months.”

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In a statement provided then to TheMusic.com.au, a spokesperson for UMG did not rule out the cuts having an impact on their Australian division. “We continue to position UMG to accelerate its leadership in music’s most promising growth areas and drive its transformation to capitalise on them,” they said.

“Over the past several years, we have been investing in future growth – building our ecommerce and D2C operations, expanding geographically, and leveraging new technologies. While we maintain our industry-leading investments in A&R and artist development, we are creating efficiencies in other areas of the business so we can remain nimble and responsive to the dynamic market, while realising the benefits of our scale.”