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IMPALA restates EMI sale opposition

By | Published on Friday 27 January 2012


Pan-European indie labels trade body IMPALA yesterday issued a new statement opposing the sale of EMI to Universal Music and Sony’s publishing business Sony/ATV.

As previously reported, the trade organisation confirmed its plans to lobby against the EMI sale, which is subject to regulator approval in both Europe and the US, as soon as current owner Citigroup announced its intent last November to sell the EMI record labels to Universal and the EMI publishing catalogues to a consortium led by Sony/ATV. The deals will make the world’s two biggest music companies even bigger.

IMPALA’s latest statement doesn’t really add anything new to its campaign against the EMI sale, rather aggregating a number of existing statements and documents, possibly ahead of next week’s MIDEM shindig in Cannes, which will bring together music industry reps from across Europe.

Noting moves by the Association Of Independent Music in the UK to encourage indie label owners here to write to their MPs about the deals, IMPALA also referenced a recent report by music business writer Emmanuel Legrand for the Eurosonic convention and an organisation called the European Music Office, which “promotes musical diversity and represents the interests of European music professionals at a European and worldwide level”.

That report looks at the European airplay and download charts, and claims that – while indie-signed artists apparently account for 80% of releases – they make up only 6% of the reviewed Top 100 chart, and 10% of the Top 1000. Universal, EMI and Sony, meanwhile, account for 76% of the Top 200 chart, with the majors’ American artists dominating.

While reps for both Universal and Sony will likely question the relevance of a report focused specifically on one set of chart data to the wider regulatory investigation into their takeover proposals, IMPALA presumably believe Legrand’s analysis will be useful when combined with the other research and argument that they will present to competition regulators.

And that 76% stat is most likely to be of use to IMPALA, whose central message here is increasingly that, while in theory there will be three major labels once EMI is split up and sold, in reality Universal and Sony will be so much bigger than Warner, the music industry will arguably go straight from having four big players to just two. That’s two majors with a 76% control of the charts Legrande considered.

To put this in the words of IMPALA Executive Chair Helen Smith: “Neither the USA nor Europe wants to see the music sector become a two-horse race, devoid of competition from any other companies”.

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