Special Report: Pokemon Invade Music Industry Offices

Pokemon Go in 2016
Sophia Kembowski/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

The Pokemon Go app seen on the display of a smartphone on July 13, 2016. 

In an unexpected development, digital creatures of varying sizes called Pokemon -- some 150 different types in all, according to reports -- have infiltrated the offices of several record labels in the New York City area, Billboard has learned. As of press time, at least three record labels have confirmed sightings, with several employees taking it upon themselves to assume the role of vigilantes, as it were, capturing them in specially-designed Pokeballs and storing them within a mobile app called Pokemon Go for safekeeping.

One source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on such matters, confirmed a sighting at the offices of Sony Music Group, with rumors placing it on the floor of Columbia Records. The source could not confirm the identity or type of Pokemon, however, only saying they had been surprised by an employee who stopped abruptly next to a desk to capture it. "If you were at the Sony building, you'd have better luck in Madison Square Park," the source said, referencing the cult-like group of adult humans who have dedicated their lives to hunting down the creatures since they first began appearing July 6. "Yesterday I saw mad people in the Shake Shack line [capturing them]."

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Similarly, at Warner Music Group's offices in Midtown Manhattan, multiple sightings have been confirmed, although again insiders could not confirm the identity or type of Pokemon. Worryingly, a source at Atlantic Records said that at least one individual, visiting the label's office for a meeting earlier this week, suddenly disappeared for up to a minute, only to return apologizing having dipped away to catch a Pokemon. Over in Brooklyn, Partisan Records had a brief Squirtle situation early this afternoon, according to one person who spotted the aquatic turtle lurking on a nearby desk, which was luckily cleared up quickly with little fuss; a Pinsir has also been spotted in the vicinity.

Even Billboard headquarters are not immune; at least one staffer spotted a Poliwag near a desk just this morning, while another said the office has been practically overrun with Zubats. And artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Demi Lovato and the Chainsmokers have all publicly discussed encounters with various Pokemon in recent days.

Currently, it's unclear what the Pokemon's motives are. Many, as with the Squirtle/turtle corollary, resemble animals in form; others are plant-like or geologic; while still others seem to echo fantastical creatures such as dragons and ghosts, bringing in to question their musical abilities -- though some have been known to react to music. Their presence has not been confined to one area in offices, either, raising doubts about earlier rumors that several were seeking record deals; Billboard was unable to confirm one source's report that a Pokemon was spotted slipping a mixtape into an A&R's bag as of press time.

Despite their presence at both major and indie labels, conflicting reports out of Universal Music Group have made it unclear whether or not any Pokemon have been sighted in those offices. One source chalked that up to a malfunctioning Pokemon Go app, which has prevented them from searching too deeply; the staffer bravely offered to release a lure of some sort to attract those nearby and report back later. But another Def Jam insider, though claiming to have not seen the creature personally, made a bold assertion when asked where in the building they might be. 

"What's the coolest Pokemon?" the source asked when reached by phone. "Mewtwo? There's one on top of Steve Bartels' sound system. He's got the best sound system in the industry."