In the wake of Sylvia Rhone's departure from Universal Motown last month, Universal Motown Republic Group and Island Def Jam Music Group today announced a new centralized back-office structure and a "mandate to dramatically increase artist investments across its labels."
"While UMRG and IDJMG will continue to function as two independent label groups, they will now benefit from the centralization of select back-office functions that include legal, finance international and digital," the statement continues. At press time, the departure of Universal Motown Senior Vice President of Media Relations Margeaux Rawson had been confirmed; at least 20 other staffers were reportedly let go, the Hollywood Reporter stated that the departments hit included legal, finance, digital, publicity and A&R administration.
Rumors flew that Motown was being "folded" in the wake of a tweet from Erykah Badu last week; UMG reps denied them, but the label is expected to be significantly downsized and become more of a boutique imprint.
Rhone's status with the company remains unclear; she is reportedly in talks to run a small multi-rights company that would involve recordings to publishing, touring, merchandise and possibly management.
"In an effort to better serve our artists and business partners, UMRG and IDJMG are reallocating resources to achieve greater efficiencies," Barry Weiss, the companies' CEO and chairman, said in a statement. "While this will unfortunately result in some redundancy, it will allow for increased expenditures on the creative front across all of our labels, with particular plans to double our A&R investment and Universal Motown. Moreover, by centralizing these select functions, our artists and business partners will also benefit from a more concentrated and streamlined approach in the areas of legal, finance, international and digital. This will allow us to operate with much more flexibility and speed; two qualities necessary for our continued growth in this challenging marketplace."
Leading the new departments are:
Steve Gawley, Executive Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for UMRG and IDJMG. He was previously executive VP of business and legal affairs for IDJMG, a position he had held since 2008.
George Marolda, Chief Financial Officer of UMRG and IDJMG. He was previously chief financial officer of UMRG and has been with the company since 1999.
Matt Voss, Senior Vice President of International of UMRG and IDJMG. He was formerly senior VP of marketing for UMG in London and has been with the company since 1999.
Jon Vanhala, Senior Vice President of Digital, Brand Integration and New Business for UMRG and IDJMG. He was formerly senior VP of digital & new business development for IDJ and has been with the company since 1994.
Meredeth Oliver, Vice President of A&R Administration for UMRG and IDJMG. She was formerly senior director of A&R administration and has been with the company since 2000.
"I am confident that Steve, George, Matt, Jon and Meredeth will provide our artists and business partners with the very best in creative management and business savvy," Weiss said. "They are truly among the very best in the next generation of entertainment executives."
Billboard.biz will have more on this developing story later in the day.