The Music Managers Forum has given a guarded welcome to EMI Group chairman Guy Hands’ plans to restructure the major.
London-based MMF chief executive Jon Webster spoke to Billboard.biz after yesterday’s meeting between Hands and more than 100 EMI artist managers at the company’s west London corporate HQ. The meeting was intended to explain Hands’ plans for restructuring the company, which include dramatic job cuts.
“We’re welcoming a new look at anything at the moment,” says Webster. “I don’t think anyone [in the record business] knows where we’re really going, so taking a fresh look at how and why we do things is great.”
Webster adds that “the world — let alone EMI — probably needs someone looking at it with a fresh eye.” However, he notes: “the question is: how does [Hands] do it after that? What is he actually going to reduce?”
At the meeting, Hands told managers that the era of multi-million dollar advances is over, adding that introducing a new global business model to cover support services — including finance, human resources, I.T., legal and business affairs, corporate communications and PR — will be the first step in the restructuring.
A new global organisation for the whole of EMI Music will be in place by the end of June. However, Hands will delay recruiting a chief executive until the summer.
As well as meeting with managers, Hands has written to them, explaining how the new structure will work following up to 2,000 job cuts worldwide — a third of the staff. As previously reported, concerns about the future direction of the company following the departure of EMI U.K. chairman and CEO Tony Wadsworth last week has particularly troubled acts on the label, with Robbie Williams’ and Coldplay’s management both voicing their dismay.
Webster describes Hands’ plans as “partially positive,” but adds: “the proof of the pudding is going to be in the eating. It’s not our place to tell Guy Hands how to run his business. But it is our business when it impinges on our artists.”
Although one source admits the atmosphere before the meeting was “tense,” Hands received a round of applause from the attendees at its conclusion.
Hands also announced a new Music Management Board which he will chair once a month. He reiterated the plan to focus on A&R under Roger Ames, who is responsible for EMI Music North America and the U.K. labels. Ames will work alongside Ashley Unwin, COO for North America and U.K. labels.
JF Cecillon will continue to lead the EMI Music International division as chairman and CEO alongside Chris Roling, COO of international labels. Global creative officer Billy Mann and Caryn Tomlinson, SVP artist relations, will work with the regional label presidents to “maximize the value of our A&R talent and deepen relationships with out artists,” according to the company.
In music services, Mark Hodgkinson becomes EVP global marketing and is to review all marketing to develop a cost competitive system for physical and digital products and services. Ronn Werre, who is currently president EMI Music marketing, will also take on responsibility for global sales.
As previously reported, Mike Clasper, formerly chief executive of airports group BAA plc, has taken on responsibility for U.K. operations outside of A&R following the departure of Wadsworth. He will also take responsibility for global I.T. organisation. Clasper joined the management board in November to advise on and review the development of EMI’s global manufacturing, logistics and sales operation.
Chris Antcliff will continue as group general counsel and will also take on responsibility for regional legal and business affairs, with the heads of those divisions covering North America, U.K. & Ireland and International reporting to him.