Friday, 21 September 2012

Universal get EC green light for EMI deal

UMG have been given outline approval by EC regulators to buy up EMI's recorded music division - but the major will have to divest a number of key catalogues to meet competition requirements. Among the EMI assets to be sold are the Parlophone, Chrysalis and Mute labels and catalogues (minus The Beatles and Robbie Williams) and the EMI Classics division. A number of commentators, in particular independent labels, say that the move will give UMG unassailable market dominance alongside Sony, who since purchasing EMI's music publishing division, have a 30% plus market share in the business of songs. It is expected UMG will have a 38% plus share of the global market in recorded music and many fear that the major will use market dominance to either prioritise its own services such as Vevo, or insist on large upfront payments or equity stakes in new digital start ups which want to use music, as it did with Spotify (UMG own 4% of Spotify, EMI 1.9% and Sony 5.8%, and Sony and UMG jointly own Vevo with the Abu Dhabi investment company). The deal is still subject to US  regulatory approval, which is expected next week. The Commission said that "the very significant commitments proposed by Universal will ensure that competition in the music industry is preserved and that European consumers continue to enjoy all its benefits". Pan-European indie labels trade body IMPALA did not agree, and said it would consider its options once the EC's full decision was published.

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