16 October 2003 | Liam O'Brien
Tom Stone, Universal Music Group's director of international travel, is leaving at the end of the month to set up his own travel management consultancy, Sirius.
Stone, who is also chairman of the Institute of Travel Management (ITM), will handle Universal's travel management in a consultancy role.
He said: "There are extremely tough times ahead for the music industry because of file sharing and piracy.
"The writing is on the wall for in-house travel management, so I proposed to the board that they save the overhead by outsourcing their one remaining in-house travel manager - me - to a new company I was setting up."
Universal is one year into a programme to slash spending by up to half of the £30 million budget, excluding North America, by 2004.
Expenses for artists, including Eminem, Shania Twain and Sheryl Crow, account for around 35 per cent of the music company's travel budget.
"For every star, there are 100 artists who have yet to succeed. A small handful get privileged treatment and this will not change," he said.
"Universal is looking for a bigger bang for its buck and asking more questions about whether a journey is really necessary. But there is no question of Sheryl Crow having to travel in economy!"
Stone moved to Universal from its parent company Vivendi Universal two years ago.
The move will make Stone the ITM's first consultant chairman. Until now, all have been in-house employees.