Including state-of-the-art recording studios and a coffee shop known to serve stars such as Shawn Mendes.
Earlier this year, Universal Music Canada moved into its new headquarters in Liberty Village. The workplace has 45,000 square feet of office space, including three state-of-the-art recording studios, a multi-purpose performance venue and a coffee shop where international superstars like J. Cole, Shawn Mendes and Dave Grohl are known to get a jolt of caffeine before going to meetings or training. “We have less every day Field of Dreams the times are here,” says Jeffrey Remedios, CEO of UMC. “You never know who you’re going to meet.”
In the 2010s, the UMC had its offices in a large warehouse at Victoria Park and 401. There wasn’t much going on in the area, and when musicians drove out to meetings, either from the airport or from downtown hotels, they were gone. spending half of their day in the car. So, in 2016, UMC began planning a downtown campus in a trendy area where musicians could be inspired. “We wanted to create a space for artists and their partners to connect and connect,” says Remedios.
Over the next four years, with the help of local architects SuperKul, UMC made it happen, creating a clean, light-filled workspace at 80 Atlantic Avenue. Gray carpeting and wooden walls abound, giving the space an organic feel. The office was ready for early 2020. Then Covid happened and the UMC team packed up their laptops and worked from home, leaving their new location untouched. Now, the workers are back to the three-day hybrid program.
Here’s a look inside the space.
Underground, by the front door, UMC leases space to coffee shop Arvo, which also sells beer and wine. “They surprised their wine and coffee,” says Remedios. “They take it seriously – just like the UMC takes records.”
This is a multi-purpose activity and the working area is also underground. It has a capacity of 100 people, is sound-proof and equipped with a full PA system. In September 2021, Shawn Mendes used the rehearsal room for the Much Music Video Awards; in August, Geddy Lee and Dave Grohl were here rehearsing for Taylor Hawkins’ show. Above the bar, reclaimed cheap seats from the old Massey Hall act as a buffer. Sadly Hip fans will recognize the neon lyrics to the song “Ahead by a Century” – UMC took Gord Downie’s album and made this sign in his handwriting.
On the second floor, there is a private state-of-the-art recording facility called 80A Studios. It has a separate entrance so artists can access it without disturbing (or being distracted by) UMC staff elsewhere in the building. There is a stained-glass installation above the front desk by Canadian multimedia artist Trevor Wheatley and his partner, Cosmo Dean. It shows coins being minted, showing the unpredictability of the creative process.
Welcome to Studio 1. When J. Cole played Scarborough Shooting Stars in the spring of 2022, he used the space to make music. It features a giant Solid State Logic soundboard and an Atmos surround-sound speaker system.
The wall features photos of UMC’s current talent, including Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.
While there are meeting rooms such as those for UMC staff, there is a separate accessible work-space for independent staff, including artist management teams and label partners. It has a bunch of desks and private rooms.
UMC commissioned artist Catherine Walker to create a wall of gray carpet, which is found in all offices. They provide a bit of a noise buffer and make the space feel organic, soft and natural instead of boring and bland.
The Massey boardroom, where the big, important meetings take place, looks like something out of a movie where agents and other bigwigs pound the table, representing their clients. All of the boardrooms are named after famous Canadian music venues (Massey Hall, Maple Leaf Gardens, The Commodore Ballroom).
Here is the workplace for UMC employees. About 160 people work out of this office on a three-day mixed-work schedule (everyone comes in on Wednesdays). Desks are placed in departments, in “communities,” for a combination of separation and collaboration.
And this is the Remedios office—a big place, with lots of natural light, to hold important meetings with some of the biggest players in the world.