The newly private Warner Music Group, having significantly reduced its worldwide staff, is now turning its cost-cutting efforts toward its artists.
As part of the integration of Atlantic and Elektra into one label, Warner Music Group’s new management team is looking at the artist roster with the goal of paring it “from 180 to below 100,” says WMG U.S. Recorded Music chairman/CEO Lyor Cohen.
The company is attempting to get the roster down to a size that’s in proportion with the organization and respectful of the acts remaining on the roster, Cohen says.
It’s unclear which specific artists might get the axe, but published reports suggest Elektra pop-rock act Third Eye Blind is a candidate. The band’s most recent album, “Out of the Vein,” has sold 220,000 copies since its release in May 2003.
At the same time, some of the remaining artists will shift label affiliations within WMG, sources say. Warner Bros. Records will take over marketing and promotion of the next album from Metallica, which has long been Elektra’s flagship rock band. Boutique label Nonesuch, which had been aligned with Atlantic, will also now be affiliated with Warner Bros.
WMG was purchased in February from Time Warner Inc. by an investment group including Thomas H. Lee Partners, Bain Capital and Providence Equity Partners. The new owners, under the lead of new WMG chairman/CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr., initiated a major restructuring plan with the goal of saving $277 million.
The company recently lowered prices on 1,776 titles, the largest devaluation in WEA’s 33-year history.