Music

Warner Chappell Australia MD to Depart as WMG Eliminates 10% of Staff

The fallout from Warner Music Group’s company-wide cull has already reached Australia, where the head of the domestic Warner Chappell company, Matthew Capper, is understood to be among the departures.

Capper has led Warner Chappell Australia as managing director since 2010, and boasts more than 20 years’ service with the company.

A popular figure in the music publishing community, Capper joined Warner Chappell in 2003, initially as a copyright/royalty analyst, was promoted to general manager in 2004, and was named managing director in July 2010.

Prior to working at Warner Chappell, Capper cut his teeth as administration manager at Festival Music Publishing, a now-defunct Australian independent music publishing brand which was acquired by Mushroom Music in 2005.

Outside of his duties leading Warner Chappell’s affiliate from Melbourne, he is non-executive director of APRA and AMCOS, deputy chair of AMCOS, chair and non-executive director of publishers trade association AMPAL, and treasurer and non-executive director of ICMP, the global trade body representing the music publishing industry worldwide.

On his election to the board of APRA in 2007, he become the youngest-ever director of the authors’ rights society, aged 30 – a record that still stands.

Capper will finish up with Warner Chappell Australia on Feb. 29, 2024, sources say, tying in to sweeping changes announced earlier in the week by Warner Music Group CEO Robert Kyncl.

In an internal memo to staff obtained by Billboard, Kyncl wrote that the company will be reducing headcount by 10%, or some 600 people, as part of a plan to free up $200 million in cost savings to reinvest into the business.

Those cost savings will be realized by the end of September 2025, Kyncl said in the memo; some of those laid off have already begun to be informed, while the “vast majority” will be notified “by the end of September 2024,” he writes.

“As we carry out our plan, it’s important to bear in mind why we’re making these difficult choices,” the memo continued. “We’re getting on the front foot to create a sustainable competitive advantage over the next decade. We’ll do so by increasing funding behind artists and songwriters, new skill sets, and tech, to help us deliver on our three strategic priorities,” which he says includes growing engagement with music, increasing the value of music and evolving how Warner’s teams work together.”

Just before news broke of those company-wide cuts, WMG announced that its quarterly revenue grew 17% for the period ended Dec. 31, 2023, up 11% in normalized revenue, to $1.75 billion — its highest quarterly result ever.

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