Mute to buy back its catalogue from EMI thanks to Universal ?Posted on 23/07/12
(This is a contribution by Jean-Marc Lederman from the kollector.com blog) - Things are moving in funny ways in the musicbusiness world but the Karma lift may have just reached the Mute floor... Listen up, it's rather complex.
Universal Music Group is the biggest music company in the world. They bought EMI last year from Terra Firma, an investment company, for a hefty 1,9 billion € and were waiting for the EC to give its approval in a situation where Universal could own about 40% of the recorded music industry in the world.
A few weeks ago, in June, the EC had reached a temporary conclusion where it said that the merge could indeed be negative for the well-being of free commerce in Europe and therefore the merge had a serious chance of being rejected. Which Citigroup, the company who sold EMI to UMG last year, doesn't want to hear anyway as the deal is very precise: UMG has to pay Citigroup a big fat cheque by early September. So, how to pay Citigroup and show the EC that UMG understands the monopolic situation they would create and are willing to make some changes in order to have the EC approving the merge asap ?
Well, behold, a few days ago UMG has made a very tempting offer to several European indie labels. They offer a 250 million € package consisting of a few big labels they inherited in the EMI buy-out: Virgin, Chrysalis, Parlophone but also... Mute which Daniel Miller sold to EMI when he joined them in 2002 (to recuperate it when he quit them in 2010). In the process some bands had somehow to stay at EMI, such as Depeche Mode and Goldfrapp). Daniel Miller apparently has welcomed the offer and other indies chiefs have joined in too: Richard Branson who wants its Virgin back, but also Kenny Gates (PIAS) or Bell from Domino Records (Artic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, etc.). Martin Mills (the legendary 4AD label) from Beggars is not happy at all with the offer and he is rather vocal about it. Things aren't going to be easy at Indie Label Summer Camp.
So, quite a few indie labels big chiefs are welcoming the offer which could see UMG-EMI being accepted by the EC and a cool share of the industry being redistributed to labels if they agree on the first option offer. Its better than selling parts of the music industry to banks and trust funds, no ? Which is exactly what the problem was with EMI who was bought by investments firm Terra Firma for 4,9 billion € back in 2007 but they couldn't handle it properly. Let music be dealt by people who know what music is about, not marketing school-brewed people who think a chorus is 4 guys singing accapella and a great intro is when making the bell ring on Wall Street.
More details on the kollector.com blog.
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Posted by B. Van Isacker
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