Universal Music Group’s home offices in Santa Monica, Calif., were evacuated Friday after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus. All staffers were directed to leave the buildings “in an orderly manner,” although the discovery was made toward the end of the day and a source tells Variety that most of the staff had either left for the weekend or were already working from home.
An internal memo obtained by Variety reads in part, “Previously, we have committed that if there were to be a confirmed case of coronavirus infection in any of our offices, we would immediately close that location. We have just been informed that there is a confirmed case of infection in an employee based in our 2220 Colorado Avenue offices.
“Accordingly and out of an abundance of caution, we are immediately closing all of our Santa Monica offices, and all Santa Monica staff are required to work from home until further notice.” The source added that management already had planned to close the offices next week.
Nearly all UMG-affiliated labels and companies are located at the Santa Monica offices, which also include 2100 Colorado Avenue.
The news comes during a week that has seen nearly most major companies in the entertainment world, including Variety, direct their staffs to work remotely. After the cancelation or postponement over the past week of the South by Southwest, Coachella and Ultra Music Festivals, among many others, the world’s two largest live-entertainment companies, AEG and Live Nation, and several major agencies (CAA, WME, Paradigm and UTA) announced Thursday that they are suspending tours for the rest of March.
“At this time, we collectively recommend large scale events through the end of March be postponed,” the statement reads. “We continue to support that small scale events follow guidance set by their local government officials. We feel fortunate to have the flexibility to reschedule concerts, festivals, and live events as needed, and look forward to connecting fans with all their favorite artists and live entertainment soon.”
The collective statement of promoters and agencies is unprecedented in the modern touring industry and will affect hundreds of concerts and thousands of ticket purchasers all over the world. Among the acts currently on the road — and forced to halt — are Billie Eilish, who launched an extensive arena tour on Monday, Tame Impala, who performed two nights at Los Angeles’ Forum earlier this week, The Strokes (scheduled for the Forum on Saturday), Post Malone, Michael Buble, Maluma, Cher, Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown Band, Trippie Redd and Young M.A, in addition to many others.