Music group getting uprooted in restructuring

NEW YORK — Warner Music Group’s WEA distribution arm is migrating from its longtime home in Burbank to New York as part of a major restructuring that will consolidate many regional offices and result in an unspecified number of staff cutbacks.

As part of the retooling — one of the most significant in WEA’s 30-year history — the distrib will reduce the number of regional offices from 10 to four, in New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Atlanta.

WMG said it will relocate about 50 positions from the Burbank office to Gotham; only some of the current California staff will be invited to make the move eastward. Others will be given job placement aid inside parent AOL Time Warner and elsewhere.

At the same time, WEA said it plans to expand the scope of its inhouse marketing efforts for WMG artists, using merchandising, college reps and event promotion to push the label group’s wares. Distrib will set up a “lifestyles” sales staff to broaden WEA’s customer base beyond traditional buyers.

“Significant changes in the industry require us to reposition the organization to take advantage of the rapidly evolving market and approach the business of distributing and marketing music and related product with fresh eyes,” said WEA topper Jim Caparro.

Caparro took the reins at WEA just six months ago after the retirement of longtime chief exec Dave Mount. Caparro had recently stepped down from his post as chairman of the hit-laden Island Def Jam Music Group.

WEA’s change of venue isn’t the first eastward move for a major label division — EMI’s Virgin Records shifted from Beverly Hills to the company’s North American headquarters on Gotham’s Fifth Avenue in September as part of the U.K. major’s companywide restructuring scheme.

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