Monday, March 14, 2005

I Predict A Riot

I work in the music industry. I am not actually a peon there, but sometimes outside sources come along to remind me that really - I am. We all are, because we aren't the special few at the top f the heap. For example:

From the Music Business Registry Newsletter:

The Financial Times reported 'Warner Music, paid its top five executives more than $21m in salary and bonuses following last year's $2.6bn acquisition of the US
music group by a private equity consortium.' The article continues that of the top management, Edgar Bronfman Jr, the Chairman who led last year's buy-out, received a $1M salary and $5.25M bonus. Lyor Cohen, head of the US recorded music business, received $1M and $5.24M in salary and bonus, respectively. Paul Rene Albertini, head of Warner's international operations, was paid $1.25M in salary and a $3.15M bonus. Departing Warner/Chappell CEO, Les Bider, received a $2.44M total payment. These payouts include further guaranteed bonuses or change of control payments. According to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, last year's total executive remuneration was more than three times higher than Warner Music's $7M operating income for the 10 months to September 30th.

The management payments reflect Warner's success in cutting costs following last year's sale of the Music Group by Time Warner. The company expects to deliver $250M of annualized savings by May this year, achieved mainly through 1,600 job losses. What is so truly disturbing here is that it speaks volumes about the value system of an owner of a company that would pay its top-five Record Executives more than three times the amount of operating income for a ten-month period while dismissing 1,600 employees.
What the article failed to mention was that in addition to the employee layoffs, Warner Music Group also dropped 93 of the 193 artists signed to Warner Labels in the US, approximately 47% of the artist roster during this same period.

And then this Saturday in the LA Times:

In the year since Warner Music Chief Executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. and his fellow investors bought the once venerated company, they have eliminated 1600 positions, pared wages, slashed investments in new artists, shut offices and quadrulped employees' health insurance premiums. The reason: They've been getting the company ready for Wall Street. On Friday, Warner filed papers to raise as much as $750 million through an initial public offering of stock, ending months of speculation about the compnay's future. Warner Music said it would use the IPO proceeds to pay down part of its 2.5 billion debt load and for general corporate purposes.

I highly suspect this still means I won't be getting a raise any time soon...