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Universal to buy EMI
The four biggest major record labels became three in 2012, as courts cleared the way for Universal Music Group to acquire EMI. Universal, in turn, had to auction a third of its assets as part of antitrust conditions. This may not be the sexiest music story of this year, but it's certainly significant, as major labels show signs of a continuing struggle keeping their individual imprints afloat in this entertainment economy. (Just remember: less than 15 years ago, there were six major label groups.) While artists like Amanda Palmer (who earned +$1 million via Kickstarter) can make their own fortunes independently, major labels still dominate radio airplay, the mainline of mass commercial success.