The three major music companies — Sony, Universal and Warner Music — have asked employees to work from home as much as possible for the rest of 2020 due to concerns over COVID-19.
While the offices will be open for employees who must be there for business reasons, according to internal memos obtained by Rolling Stone (which first reported the news) and Variety, the companies, which are the largest recorded-music and music-publishing businesses in the world, have asked the staff who can do so to work from home. Reps for the companies either declined or did not respond to Variety‘s requests for comment.
The news is not surprising, due to the enormous spread of coronavirus across the U.S. in recent weeks due to the premature reopening of businesses and other parts of society across the country.
UMG — the world’s largest music company, home to artists ranging from Taylor Swift and The Weeknd to the Rolling Stones — told employees via email on Tuesday evening that “at this point, it’s our best judgement that not have a widespread return to our U.S. offices at least through late January, 2021, if not longer.”
Warner — home to Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars and Coldplay — wrote to employees on Wednesday that despite initial plans to begin a return to offices in September, “We’ve now reviewed the situation and decided to postpone these dates, at the earliest, until January for our US offices and October for our UK offices.”
The letter from HR chief Masha Osherova continues, “Our thinking is that we want to evaluate what happens after the summer holidays, in terms of the infection rate itself, the potential reopening of schools, and the higher numbers of people using public transport again. … At the moment, the picture in terms of infection rates is looking better in the UK than the US, hence the earlier projected Return To Office date in London. But we’re aware that things can change quickly – as recent events in Spain, which is experiencing a second wave, have shown.”
On Wednesday, Sony, home to artists ranging from Beyonce and Lil Nas X to Bruce Springsteen, told employees, “We wanted to let you know that we don’t anticipate U.S. Sony Music Group offices moving beyond our own Phase One return in the U.S. before the end of the calendar year.”
The memo continues, “Our top priority remains the same: ensuring the safety of you and your families. The SMG COVID-19 task force continues to meet every few days to analyze each office’s situation.”