Friday, June 22, 2012

UMG-EMI merger goes to Washington

The US Senate is currently grinding through a decision on whether it should smile upon the merger of Universal and EMI. Yesterday senators held a hearing to allow themselves to be better informed before (meeting shadowy lobbyists, accepting small envelopes and) delivering their verdict.

As MusicAlly reports, much of the focus was on the digital music market. Warner's Edgar Bronfman Junior fretted that the 50% of biggest-selling artists held by the new Universal would allow it to decide which digital services thrived, and which wilted:

”At 50% of the hits, Universal can say no to anything”
Universal were shocked, shocked, at the suggestion they might use their new superpowers for anything but good:
UMG boss Lucian Grainge disagreed.

“The thought that we would constrict our artists who we’ve invested in, and construct the investment we make in EMI to dissolve the market would be commercial suicide,” he told the hearing. “We would be insane not to license, develop, make our music available through as many platforms, through as many retailers as possible.”
Yes, the idea of a major label trying to use its catalogue to strangle upstart, disruptive businesses and technologies - where would anyone get an idea like that, eh?

You suspect, though, that Bronfman is less worried about the idea of record companies taking on digital companies than he is about the new company's greater heft within the RIAA, the majors' preferred choice of digital closedown.

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