IMPALA has lodged concerns with the European Commission over Sony’s move to gain sole control of EMI Music Publishing.
Sony recently confirmed it has bought out the shares of Michael Jackson’s estate. The indies’ trade body said that Sony’s acquisition would almost double the number of songs it controls from 2.16 million to 4.21m.
IMPALA said the move to complete control would be “seismic”, and noted that the European Commission had only approved its 2016 buyout of Sony/ATV on the basis that EMI would be run separately and not combined with Sony’s publishing and recording operations.
Helen Smith, executive chair of IMPALA, said: “It cannot be overemphasised that this is completely different to an ordinary change from joint to sole control. It¹s like seeking to merge two majors. That would never be allowed and neither should this. Sony¹s latest financial results confirm that. EMI will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony.”
IMPALA expressed particular concern about competition in the online market as a result of Sony’s bargaining power in publishing and recorded music. It also warned that, if approved, the deal would harm collection societies, songwriters and composers, as well as consumers in terms of the cost of music services.
“No music company globally would hold so much power,” said Smith. “Sony would be able to dictate terms to online services, dominate playlists, control collecting societies and capture all key routes to market, at the expense of online services, competitors, authors, and consumers. This would be seismic.”
The European Commission will assess the proposed transaction once Sony submits its formal notification and competitors issue a response.
Smith added: “Our view is that the transaction has to be blocked. EMI would have a better future as a stand-alone operation or combined with another smaller music company to make a more effective competitor to the majors. That would be the best outcome not only for competition but also for cultural diversity and consumer choice.”