What EMI's sale means to artists, songwriters, you and Coldplay, Katy Perry, Jay Z, Beyonce
Remember when there were six major record companies? I do. And it wasn’t that long ago. As of today (pending approvals), we’re down to three.
Embattled EMI Group, which has been waiting for a suitor, any suitor, to pluck it out of Citigroup’s hands following the Terra Firma fiasco, is being divvied up into two pieces: Vivendi’s Universal Music Group will buy the recording division for $1.9 billion, while Sony/ATV has purchasing the publishing assets for $2.2 billion.
Warner Music Group, which, itself, was sold earlier this year to Access Industries, and which had danced around EMI for years, took itself out of the running for EMI’s recorded music arm the last week. EMI CEO Roger Faxon tried very hard to have the whole company sold as one piece and to remain a stand-alone business, as its recent sales have allowed. Not this time.
So what happens next? First off, these things never run smoothly so expect some hitches. While at Billboard, I witnessed both Universal’s then-parent Seagram’s purchase of Polygram in 1998 (for $10.4 billion, by the way) and the Sony/BMG merger, which started in 2004, and culminated in Sony buying out BMG in 2008. They are bloody messes even in the best of times.
Both deals still have to go through a number of regulatory approvals and other hoops, so don’t look for any changes any time soon and probably not until sometime in Spring 2012. IMPALA, Europe’s Independent Music Companies Assn., has already called for the Universal/EMI deal to be blocked by the European Commission, citing anti-trust concerns. The org’s similar protests over the Sony/BMG merger slowed the process, but ultimately, did not stop it. Universal has already said it will make $750 million in divestments to help fund the purchase (Billboard cites a source, who suggests the assets sold will be “one or two small catalogs”). IMPALA’s statement today also indicated that it intended to fight the Sony/EMI purchase as well.
EMI’s assorted labels, including Capitol and Virgin, are home to a number of top artists, including Coldplay, Katy Perry, Tyrese, The Decemberists, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, David Guetta, and, of course, the Beatles’ and Beach Boys’ catalogs. EMI Music Publishing’s artists/songwriters include Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Pink, Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Arcade Fire. It also owns all those great Motown classics, though its staggered purchase Jobete. EMI controls around 1.3 million copyrights.
Below are a few thoughts on the deals with the focus on the recorded music division since it is the sale that will affect music fans.
EMI RECORDED MUSIC
EMI’s record labels, despite such successes as Perry, Coldplay and David Guetta, have had weak leadership at the top for the last few years, despite CEO Roger Faxon’s steadying hand. The notable exception is Capitol Nashville, which has been an anchor under Mike Duncan’s stewardship in an otherwise unstable company.
On the other hand, UMG has some a wealth of talented executives and chairman/CEO Lucian Grange, who took over from Doug Morris (who moved to Sony Music) earlier this year, has taken strong steps to realign the company in ways that could make it even more efficient. Most recently, he shut down Arista and Jive Records, letting go dozens of staffers.
Even with those changes— and if UMG retains the top exec talent from EMI, which it should —UMG will be a place where many of EMI’s top acts can thrive, which doesn’t always happen in a merger. Unfortunately, as always happens in these cases, many, many employees (probably hundreds) will lose their jobs in the transition. Though it’s way too early to speculate on whether the Capitol and Virgin logos will remain viable, it’s almost certain that the usual “reviewing of the rosters” will lead to dozens of acts being dropped.
However, being let go from a major label isn’t the death sentence now that it was in 1998 or so. Far from it. Many of the mid-level, baby and veteran acts that could be dropped will no doubt be able to thrive on their own or on indie labels.
In terms of who will run what, our prediction, sadly, is that EMI’s top label brass will likely lose out. The exception, again, is Nashville. Dungan is very well liked and respected, as is UMG’s Nashville head, Luke Lewis, but we definitely can’t see one working for the other. If they decide to merge the two labels (among the acts Lewis oversees are Sugarland and “American Idol’s” Scotty McCreery), there will be some tough choices.
EMI MUSIC PUBLISHING
Sony cobbled together its $2.2 billion with the help of Michael Jackson’s estate (remember, Jackson owns part of Sony/ATV already), as well as David Geffen.
Sony’s purchase brings EMI back under Marty Bandier’s purview. Publishing titan Bandier oversaw EMI during a very long, very tenure and built it up to the powerhouse it became until he left in 2002. This must be very sweet for him.
If the decision is made to merge the two publishing companies, both of which have extremely talented staff, Bandier will have a wealth of talent to choose from, including Big Jon Platt, the man largely responsible for bringing Jay-Z, Kanye West, Beyonce and Usher into the EMI Music publishing fold.
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
Let Streaming Genie help you.