Music Industry Moves: Around 15 People Laid Off at Epic Records

Epic Records was hit by a round of layoffs on Wednesday that sources say has affected approximately 15 people. Details were incomplete at the time of this article’s publication but sources tell Variety that the A&R, promotion, marketing and publicity departments were affected, among others. While a rep for Sony Music declined comment, the company’s fiscal year ends on March 31, so a connection between the two events seems likely. Variety will have more on this news as information becomes available.

Tuesday, March 19

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Iconoclast and the estate of Tony Bennett have struck a deal for certain rights to the late singer’s catalog, including name and image likeness rights, some publishing and video assets, artist royalties and a number of recorded-music rights. A rep for Bennett’s longtime label home, Sony Music, asserted that the company still owns the rights to a majority of the singer’s recordings.

Iconoclast, working alongside Tony Bennett’s son and manager Danny Bennett, has already secured deals for upcoming Tony Bennett-branded initiatives, such as a series of watches with Bulova, a restaurant located within Tony’s home base of New York City, an event with Julien’s Auction at The Lincoln Center, a biographical graphic novel and various film and TV projects including “The Lady and The Legend” documentary about Tony’s friendship with Lady Gaga from Paramount +.

“We all walk in the footsteps of giants. Tony was one of these giants,” said Iconoclast founder Olivier Chastan in a statement. “His legacy shines beyond music and is woven into America’s cultural, social and political fabric and history. Besides his extraordinary talent that radiated for over 60 years, Tony’s legacy is one of character, integrity, kindness, and courage. We are truly honored to be the custodians of this incredible and historical legend.”

“In working with Tony for over 40 years, my philosophy was always that I didn’t manage a career but, rather, managed a legacy,” said Danny Bennett, the singer’s son and longtime manager. “I am proud and confident to say that working with Olivier and the Iconoclast family will continue this tradition to ensure that the legacy of Tony’s life and artistic body of work will endure for future generations to come.”

Sam Roseme and Peter Paterno of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, LLP. represented Iconoclast, and Don Friedman of Grubman, Shire, Meiselas & Sacks, P.C. represented Tony Bennett in the transaction.

+ Universal Music Group (UMG) and Republic Records have jointly launched Boombox — the first scaled music product across the Roblox platform.

Boombox, designed and powered by Styngr, will provide opportunities for the labels to launch playlists and integrate them into the gaming space and curate, distribute and monetize their offerings on Roblox. Boombox launches with South Korean group Twice on their Twice Square experience — the most visited music experience in Roblox history.

This is all achieved via Styngr’s ad-supported portable music player, which also plays a significant role in augmenting the digital personas of the players – a crucial element within the evolution of gaming identity.

“By integrating Boombox, UMG solidifies its position as a vanguard of music innovation within the gaming sector,” said Alvaro G. Velilla, senior VP of new business at UMG. “This integration not only enhances super-fan experiences on the platform but does so with an extensive array of fully licensed music from UMG’s global roster of artists and labels, setting a new standard for how music can be integrated into the platform for the entire sector.”

+ UMG Nashville has tapped publishing veteran Jake Gear as its new vice president of A&R. Gear has over 10 years of experience as a publisher, produce and songwriter manager.

“Jake brings an unparalleled passion for nurturing artists, writers, and producers within the vibrant Nashville community,” said UMG Nashville’s executive VP of A&R, Chelsea Blythe. “With his keen ear to the ground and unwavering dedication, I’m excited for the creativity he brings to the department, and I know he’ll be a huge asset to our roster.”

From a small corn-belt farming community in Iowa, Gear graduated from Belmont University in Nashville before beginning his career in the music and licensing department at CMT. Gear went on to assume publishing roles at Magic Mustang Music, Sea Gayle Music and BMG before launching the creative publishing venture Hang Your Hat Music in 2020 with Concord Music and award-winning Songwriter Hall of Famer, Hillary Lindsey.

Gear has also acted as writer manager for Lindsey, and produced albums for Flatland Cavalry, Ben Chapman, Harper O’Neill and Hailey Whitters including her critically acclaimed projects “The Dream,” “Raised,” and 2023’s Platinum-selling breakout hit “Everything She Ain’t.”

+ Stem has added two new staff members to their artist and label divisions: Didi Purcell and Nima Khalilian. The latter joins Stem from Interscope, where he was formerly senior director of international marketing, as head of international artist and label strategy. Purcell assumes her artist and label partnerships role at Stem from SoundOn, TikTok’s music distribution and artist services platform.

“Nima and Didi are powerful additions to the Stem team and reflect our commitment to consistently broadening Stem’s reach and capability,” said Seth Faber, general manager at Stem. “Nima is a globally respected executive with a rich understanding of the nuances of international artist marketing. Didi is a genuine artist advocate with a knack for discovery and development. We’re proud to welcome them both and look forward to having them work with our incredible and expanding roster of artists & labels.”

Faber was recently promoted along with Todd Perry (VP of artist and label relations, hip-hop and R&B), Natalie Sellers (senior director of artist and label commerce and partnerships), and Lexi Roney (director of brand marketing) and points to the company’s greater commitment to empowering independent musicians and labels with the tools and infrastructure to operate autonomously in 2024.

A proud alum of VCU Brandcenter, Nima blends his extensive background in both advertising agencies and record labels. This unique fusion of skills positions him as a visionary leader at the intersection of creative marketing and the global music industry.

+ Julian Teixeira has joined the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) as an agent in the music touring department. Teixeira will focus on supporting the agency’s roster of electronic music acts. He will be based in CAA’s New York office.

Prior, Teixeira worked at the Bullitt Agency. His client roster includes artists such as Kölsch, Dubfire, Dennis Cruz and Chris Stussy, among many others.

The agency’s electronic music roster consists of clients Rüfüs Du Sol, David Guetta, the Chainsmokers, Afterlife, Anyma, Amelie Lens, Alesso, and Sara Landry, among many others. In the industry’s DJ Mag Top 100 Poll, since 2012, current CAA clients have 37 Top 10 placements, including three of the last four No. 1 slot holders and three of the top five DJs in 2022.

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