As the coronavirus continues to spread, multinational record companies are putting the brakes on international travel.
In an internal memo to employees, Universal Music Group noted, “for the health and well-being of our staff, and in order to be a responsible member of the global community seeking to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), we have put in place new policies and procedures, including: Suspended international business travel until further notice; postponed internal employee conferences requiring travel; and continued to comply with the guidance of local governments, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control.”
Sony Music Group is prohibiting travel to Asia and Northern Italy — the areas where the largest amount of cases have been reported — according to a source. Otherwise, it is up to the employee’s discretion whether to take a trip.
Similarly, Warner Music Group has stopped work travel to heavily affected areas, including Asia, Italy and Iran, says a source. Warner Music Group’s publishing division, Warner Chappell, also postponed a conference slated for the end of March and WMG postponed marketing meetings scheduled for Madrid.
BMG has issued guidelines urging its employees to avoid international as well as intra-continental travel, noting that all new travel proposals will be approved only if they are critical for business. Meanwhile, the company has banned travel to mainland China outright, restricted travel to Germany and ordered employees in Hong Kong and Beijing to work remotely.
Kobalt has suspended all employee travel internationally, restricted non-essential domestic travel and instituted a requirement for employees to conduct all job interviews via video conference. Next week, the company will be conducting a two-day remote-working trial for all staff to prepare for a potential worsening of the crisis.
Concord has suspended all international trips until further notice and “all non-essential domestic travel is strongly discouraged,” according to a human resources memo sent to staffers. “When possible, you should conduct necessary business meetings across locations via teleconference or Skype for Business.”
Of the companies surveyed by Billboard, Concord is the only one that has so far officially canceled its participation at South by Southwest — an annual happy hour event at the LINE Hotel planned for March 18.
Companies are also adding options for employees to work from home. “Our IT team has developed procedures to meeting and working remotely so that our work supporting our artists, songwriters and partners continues uninterrupted,” UMG informed staffers.
WMG is asking that employees exhibiting symptoms stay home and get tested. Additionally, staffers vacationing in affected areas on their lists, including Asia, Italy and Iran, should work from home for two weeks upon their return.