BMG terminated about 40 employees on Thursday (Oct. 27), sources within the company tell Billboard. The layoffs “discontinued” its international marketing department for recordings as well as its Modern Recordings label and “discontinued” its “New York theatrical productions initiative” and “the active commissioning of new films,” according to an internal memo obtained by Billboard. It took place on the day of the New York office’s annual Halloween party, says a source.
The eliminations include company leaders like Fred Casimir (executive vp, global repertoire) and Jason Hradil (senior vp, global repertoire) and affected employees in its Berlin, New York, and Los Angeles offices. A source within the company fears there are more layoffs to come and believes the layoffs may be a result of the company hiring the consulting firm McKinsey & Company in recent months.
After employees were notified they were being laid off, the company hosted a call with the U.S. recorded music team — including those who were let go — according to a source within the company.
“Everyone at BMG says it feels like a venture capital firm now and not a record label,” laments an employee. “Things got dark real fast, and it bums me out watching a lot of amazing people lose their jobs right before the holidays.”
In a video call hosted by CEO Thomas Coesfeld, the leader explained that the restructuring was part of the implementation of its new strategy, BMG Next, according to an internal memo shared with Billboard. “The international marketing team was set up five years ago in response to the needs of the company at the time,” he said to senior managers. “Our talented team has done a great job, driving international campaigns for artists including Lenny Kravitz, Kylie Minogue, and Louis Tomlinson, but unfortunately on a business level, expectations from this novel structure were not met and it created duplication of functions with local teams. The clear business decision is to instead give artists a single contact point with their local repertoire teams.”
A BMG spokesperson declined to comment beyond providing the memo.
In the last year, BMG — which represents talent like Jelly Roll, Halsey and Lainey Wilson as well as certain rights to the catalogs of Tina Turner, Peter Frampton, Mötley Crüe, and more — has made a number of significant business changes. In January, its longstanding chief executive Hartwig Masuch announced he would retire and would be succeeded by then-CFO Coesfeld, effective Jan. 1, 2024. On April 18, BMG claimed it would be the first music company to fully integrate its catalog and frontline music operations. On May 17, Masuch announced he would accelerate Coesfeld’s transition to CEO to July 1 instead.
In September, BMG announced it was winding down its agreement with Warner Music Group’s ADA and would be taking over direct management of its 80-billion-stream digital distribution later this year. (Digital revenues contributed 70% of BMG’s overall revenues in 2022.) Last week, BMG also announced it would be partnering with UMG’s commercial services division for the distribution of its physical recorded music. Coesfeld described the deal as the first project of a burgeoning “alliance” between the two music companies.
UPDATE: This article was updated Oct. 28 at 7:28 p.m. e.t. to quote an internal memo’s characterization of layoffs across departments.