Universal Music Group Announces Label Restructure, With Monte Lipman and John Janick as Leaders

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The Universal Music Group announced a massive restructuring of its record label operations on Thursday (Feb. 1), reorganizing its web of frontline labels to align them under two main companies, in Republic Records and Interscope Records. The move, which can loosely be termed an East Coast (Republic) and West Coast (Interscope) realignment, means that Interscope’s John Janick and Republic’s Monte Lipman will be leading U.S. label operations for UMG.

As part of the move, the other U.S. label heads will now report through to Janick and Lipman, a source confirms. In the new alignment, Janick will now oversee Interscope, Geffen, Capitol, Motown, Priority, Verve and Blue Note, while Lipman will oversee Republic, Def Jam, Island and Mercury.

UMG chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge announced the move today in a memo to staff, in which he acknowledged that Republic and Interscope have been the two market leaders in current market share in recent years; in 2023, Republic claimed 13.47% of the U.S. market, while Interscope was second, at 8.80%.

“As our labels continue to maintain their creative A&R and marketing independence, unique identities, and entrepreneurial spirit, they’ll also be provided with access to the talent and resources best able to support their rosters and bring them to new levels of success,” Grainge wrote in the memo, obtained by Billboard. “It’s a proven model we pioneered on the East Coast several years ago — one that we will accelerate and expand.”

“As this model takes shape and spurs new creativity, our U.S. recorded music business will continue to outperform and outgrow our competition,” Grainge continued. “Led by the industry’s best creative visionaries — we will cultivate more repertoire sources, we will invest more in new artists and emerging genres, and UMG will become an even more attractive destination for the world’s most gifted artists.”

The move comes after weeks of speculation about layoffs and restructuring at the company, and while no other moves were announced Thursday, layoffs are still expected, according to many sources. In his memo, Grainge said that “In the coming weeks, John and Monte will be making further announcements about structure, resources and next-generation partnerships. These and other developments will also power some of the other initiatives I outlined in my New Year’s note, including super-fan and audience monetization, state-of-the-art D2C, e-commerce, branding and more.”

Universal has restructured its label network in the past, generally during times of big change in the music business. In 1999, at the formation of what is now the Universal Music Group, the company structured its label operations into Island Def Jam, Universal Motown Republic, Verve Label Group and Interscope Geffen A&M. In 2012, UMG purchased EMI Music’s recorded music operations, bringing Capitol Records, Blue Note and others under its purview, forming the Capitol Music Group. Then in 2014, UMG unwound its East Coast operations to make Def Jam, Island and Motown all standalone labels; in subsequent years, Motown would be moved under the Capitol Music Group umbrella, while Island would begin sharing services with Republic. This new reorganization combines several of those labels under a streamlined structure once again.

“The competition within our own company in signing and developing artists is no accident. It’s by design,” Grainge wrote in his memo. “By creating a home for a variety of independent and competitive creative centers and the leaders that run them, we increase opportunities for growth and success.

“At the same time, our culture never lets our ‘in-house’ competition become destructive; our executives never forget that we are all part of the same UMG team. John and Monte consistently share strategies for success with our labels in the U.S. and around the world, strategies that benefit artists signed to all our labels, not just those on Republic and IGA.”

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