UMG lets go of 50 employees

Lay offs occur across label, distribution operations

Demonstrating that even music’s market share leader is not immune to the distressed straits of the business, Universal Music Group laid off 50 people across its label and distribution operations on Thursday.

Jobs were slashed at the Verve, Def Jam, Interscope, Lost Highway and Universal Motown labels, and at distribution arm Universal Music Group Distribution, according to a source with knowledge of the move. Employees were let go on both coasts and in Nashville.

The layoffs amounted to less than 1% of UMG’s work force.

UMG – No. 1 among the majors during 2009 in total albums (30.2%), current albums (33.9%), digital albums (26.9%) and digital tracks (32.9%), according to Nielsen SoundScan – depicted the cuts as an adaptation to prevailing realities in the shrinking music business.

“Universal Music Group is continuing to transform our organization to better serve our artists and business partners,” the company said in a statement. “Given the current economic climate, we have to be as agile and efficient as possible. Unfortunately, these ongoing efforts have resulted in some redundancy. However, UMG will now be even better positioned to compete in the growing global, digital marketplace.”

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