Layoffs Hit Def Jam Records

Jem Aswad

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Def Jam Records laid off several employees this week, including executive VP of brand strategy and content Noah Callahan-Bever and OJ Lima, senior VP in that department, a source close to the situation has confirmed to Variety.

A total of seven employees let go, a number that includes regional promotion staffers not based in New York or Los Angeles.

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The source termed the layoffs a result of “restructuring” and pointed to several successful campaigns Callahan-Bever’s department had executed, including branding projects for the Def Jam’s 35th anniversary this year involving collaborations with Kith and Puma, and significantly increased social engagement across all platforms. The source said the label’s approach to content strategy is “evolving” and many of those functions will be absorbed by individual departments going forward.

Callahan-Bever, who had been editor of Complex for 11 years, joined Def Jam late in 2017, in the weeks before Eminem manager Paul Rosenberg took the helm as the company’s chairman & CEO. The label has seen chart and critical success with multiple Kanye West-related releases (although there’s little question his work has been equally if not more challenging on multiple levels) as well as two No. 1 albums from rapper Logic and platinum singles from Latinx singer Danileigh and rapper YK Osiris.

However, releases from 2019 Grammy Best New Artist winner Alessia Cara have underperformed, and long-expected albums from blockbuster artists Justin Bieber and Rihanna (who, like Jay-Z, falls under a Roc Nation-Def Jam partnership) have not materialized.

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