Co-Op sale to PIAS: indies object

Tom Pakinkis

Universal is about to sell Cooperative Music to PIAS according to a clutch of independent labels who have written to protest against the move.

In a letter sent to Music Week, a number of indie label bosses affiliated with Co-Op, including Heavenly Recordings’ Jeff Barrett and Lucky Number Music’s Stephen Richards in the UK, have expressed their ‘alarm’ at the pending sale.

Should the deal go through, the indies say, it would “result in a key independent player on the music market being simply shot down by another and as a result, choice will be restricted in the future and businesses will suffer from it.” 

A second letter from Kemando Records, Mexican Summer and Software labels boss Thomas Clapp says that any further consolidation within the indie market place would adversely affect business.

The main letter, along with the indie labels who have signed the petition can be found in full below:

Madams / Sir

We the undersigned, independent music companies and managements, are writing to you today as it has come to our attention that Universal is about to divest one particular "asset" we are all affiliated with - namely Coop / Cooperative Music Ltd - in a way that raises some serious concerns for us all.

While the CEO of Universal Music has declared in many instances that he would like to see the various divestments going towards the "independent community and sector", It is our understanding COOP will be divested to a company in Belgium called PIAS and that Universal refused to consider offers from other potential buyers (including from undersigned of this petition). 

We are alarmed that this particular sale to PIAS - should it go through - will not help the independent sector and us all especially in Europe for it would result in a key independent player on the music market being simply shot down by another and as a result, choice will be restricted in the future and businesses will suffer from it.

The philosophy of COOP is to be a service oriented company for a closely knit network of independent record labels and artists from around the world, investing in the small businesses it signs to help them flourish, and that is the very reason we got affiliated with it in the first place, whilst in the past a number of us were already presented with the option of signing our deals with PIAS instead.

We are both individually and collectively concerned about the inevitable consequences of this divestment to PIAS for the following reasons:

- Whilst PIAS will integrate in house the existing COOP staff in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Scandinavia in a way that is very unclear & worrying to us (for PIAS already has its own operations in all of these markets), COOP will also, per our understanding, lose its management.

- PIAS will fold the existing catalog of music into its own portfolio and will not invest in independent businesses for this is not what the company does.

- The independent sector will lose one of its few key "players" – There will be less options to turn to in the future as PIAS would essentially buy a competitor – that has a very specific business model - off the market.

This divestiture to PIAS won’t help upholding (or create) strong alternatives for small independent businesses and artists to sign their deals, especially in Europe.

It would mean less competition, less options for artists and labels, more concentration and our business will most surely suffer as a result.

We, the petitioners, hope you are in a position to steer the divestment process for there are certainly many other potential buyers at hand who could further develop the Coop company, model, and philosophy, which would be more beneficial to the independent label community and artists.

Thank you for your attention




-LUCKY NUMBER MUSIC LTD (UK) http://www.luckynumbermusic.com

Stephen Richards (co-founder & Managing Director) - EMAIL: stephen@luckynumbermusic.com


-HEAVENLY RECORDINGS (UK) http://heavenlyrecordings.com/

Jeff Barrett (Founder) – EMAIL: jeff@heavenlyrecordings.com


-KITSUNE (France) www.kitsune.fr

Gildas Loaec (co-founder, Managing Director) - EMAIL: gildas@kitsune.fr


-KEMADO RECORDS / MEXICAN SUMMER (USA) www.kemado.com : www.mexicansummer.com

Thomas Clapp (co-founder, General Manager) – EMAIL : tom@kemado.com



Eric Harle (founder & Managing Director) - EMAIL   eric@d-e-f.com



Matthias Leullier (founder & Managing Director) - EMAIL : matt@ctrlfrk.net



Laurence Muller (Manager) – EMAIL : Laurence.muller@snoot.fr


- WEDGE (France) –Tinariwen’ production company.

Patrick Votan (Founder, Managing Director) - EMAIL : wavelabinc@gmail.com


-CITY SLANG (Germany) www.cityslang.com

Christof Elinghaus (founder & Managing Director)  - EMAIL: christof@cityslang.com


Tags: umg, universal, emi, UMG/EMI Merger, EMI Music, UMG/EMI, Universal Music, Co-Op, Cooperative

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