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Warner Music Unit Sets Restructuring

Warner Music Group’s WEA distribution arm is migrating from its longtime home in Burbank to New York as part of a major restructuring that will consolidate many regional offices and result in an unspecified number of staff cutbacks.

As part of the retooling – one of the most significant in WEA’s 30-year history – the distributor will reduce the number of regional offices from 10 to four, in New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Atlanta.

WMG said it will relocate about 50 positions from the Burbank office to Gotham; only some of the current California staff will be invited to make the move eastward. Others will be given job placement aid inside parent AOL Time Warner and elsewhere.

At the same time, WEA said it plans to expand the scope of its inhouse marketing efforts for WMG artists, using merchandising, college reps and event promotion to push the label group’s wares. It will set up a “lifestyles” sales staff to broaden WEA’s customer base beyond traditional buyers.

WEA’s change of venue isn’t the first eastward move for a major label division – EMI’s Virgin Records shifted from Beverly Hills to the company’s North American headquarters on Gotham’s Fifth Avenue in September as part of the U.K. major’s companywide restructuring scheme.