Layoffs begin at Motown Records as the label changes course to return to the fold of Capitol Music Group.
Motown Records has had a rough year. Following the departure of CEO and chairman Ethiopia Habtemariam in November, the label is now planning a restructuring under Capitol Music Group. As a result, layoffs involving at least three high-ranking executives were initiated.
“As Motown returns to the Capitol family, some of the positions that were created when we became an independent label have since been duplicated,” says a Motown representative. “These employees are leaving the company, and our HR, Inclusivity and Culture department is helping them find new opportunities — both at UMG and beyond.”
Motown Records, founded in 1958 by Berry Gordy, shaped the sound of popular music throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Although Motown began as a separate label, over the past decades Motown has had several parent companies as part of Universal Music Group.
The latest iteration began in 2014, when Habtemariam assumed the role of president of Motown along with an executive position at Universal Music Publishing Group. In the same year, UMG disbanded the Island Def Jam music group and moved Motown to Los Angeles to work from the Capitol Tower. This dissolution led to a dramatic increase in the number of contracts and market share for Motown, which led to its return as a separate label in 2021.
Habtemariam’s time at the helm led to the signing of a Motown contract with the quality control department in Atlanta, as a result of which Lil Yachty, Lil Baby, City Girls, Migos and others appeared on the label. Although his recordings remain in the UMG family, Quality Control was recently acquired by Hybe America for $300 million.
Motown is the latest music and media company to announce layoffs in the last few months. Amazon, Vox Media, Disney, TikTok, Meta, Spotify, Snap, Alphabet, Microsoft and many others have started to cut jobs to combat the growing economic landscape and problems in the technology sector.