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WB DISKERY PARES STAFF

Label lays off 65 staffers in cost-cutting move

In the latest round of cost-cutting within the Warner Music Group, the venerable Warner Bros. Records la-bel has trimmed its staff, pinkslipping nearly 50 of its execs in its Burbank operation.

Overall, the label cut about 65 staffers from all divisions, encompassing execs at all layers of the company. Sources said staffers in marketing, publicity, promotion and product management were the hardest hit.

The label has about 300 staffers in its Burbank headquarters, with another 100 spread across the U.S.

Pinkslips expected

The layoffs had been expected for some time, and were scheduled to occur Friday. But following a staff meeting late Tuesday, it was decided the cuts would come today.

“Our industry is in the midst of a difficult and challenging period of adjustment,” Warner Bros. label chairman Russ Thyret said in a memo circulated Wednesday to the remaining employees.

“Over the course of our history, Warner Bros. Records has been a successful, artist-oriented and competitive or-ganization. I have concluded that we must streamline our operations including the very difficult decision to down-size our work force.”

The cuts come at a time when the label has the top-selling soundtrack in the nation with “Howard Stern’s Private Parts” and a number of discs in the upper levels of the sales charts.

Royalties refigured

Warner Bros.’ sister label Atlantic Records trimmed about 55 staffers from its ranks late last year. Atlantic announced Wednesday it will recalculate royalties paid to artists signed between 1948 and 1969. Those artists will see their U.S. royalty rate rise to 10% of retail list price.

The label has also jettisoned a number of artist, joint-venture and imprint deals recently, including pacts with Ellen DeGeneres and U2 manager Paul McGuinness’ Celtic Heartbeat label, among others.

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