WMG unit attempts to change with the times
In the latest indication of the shrinking market for compact discs, Warner Music Group’s catalog arm Rhino Records laid off between 30 and 40 staffers on Thursday.Job losses came in all departments, including A&R, marketing, promotion and publicity. A statement from Rhino cited a “fundamental transformation of the physical new release and catalog business” as a reason for the cuts. Company said Rhino will evolve into an entity that “handles WMG’s global digital catalog initiatives, film, TV, vidgame and commercial licensing, and name and likeness representation for legendary artists.” Move comes as sales of physical recorded music continues to decline steeply. Rhino has long been considered the industry standard for boxed set retrospectives, but demand for such high-ticket items has been strangled by the music market slump and shift to digital sales. The Warner unit has been trying to change with the times, placing more emphasis on digital-only offerings, including a recent virtual boxed set devoted to the U.K.’s Factory Records, and name-and-likeness pacts, such as those made with Frank Sinatra’s estate and the Grateful Dead.