Respected Mute Records founder Daniel Miller has spoken publicly for the first time over his support for Universal's proposed £1.2bn acquisition of EMI Music - which he backs so long as certain divestments come the way of indie labels.
Divestments suggested by Universal boss Lucian Grainge include EMI's Mute catalogue, which would give Miller the chance to buy back rights which he sold to the major in 2002.
“Universal is already the biggest music company in the world — that’s not going to change,” Miller said in a new interview. “This is an opportunity to strengthen the independent sector. In my personal view, it would be good for Mute, it would be good for our artists, and good for the whole independent distribution network.”
According to the New York Times, Miller said a letter from Lucian Grainge was particularly appealing to entrepreneurs who had sold assets to EMI but now had a chance to get them back.
Miller's comments echo those of IMPALA co-president Patrick Zelnik, who said on Monday that with the right divestments, the Universal/EMI merger could "rescue" the music industry.
Over half of IMPALA's board voted in agreement with Zelnik's plan - but three-quarters was required to overturn the group's public stance. The body continues to publicly oppose the merger.
As widely reported, Grainge is offering divestments of owned repertoire worth around £150m, as well as licence, compilation and distribution rights worth £100m to the independent sector if the EMI acquisition goes through.
Labels on the table include Chrysalis UK (excluding Robbie Williams), EMI Classics, Sanctuary and Virgin Records - which Richard Branson has admitted an interest in re-purchasing.