Analysis

Beggars boss speaks out ahead of US hearing into UMG/EMI deal


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The eyes of the music industry will be on Washington D.C. today, as the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust Competition Policy and Consumer Rights’ hearing into UMG’s proposed acquisition of EMI’s recorded music division kicks off. Beggars Group’s Martin Mills will be among the people testifying, and he’s spoken out about his opposition to the deal.

“I believe that this will damage the market and will hurt the opportunity for independents and for indies and other smaller majors to access the market,” he tells Billboard. “I think it’s about dominance in market share, market control, and I just don’t think that music is a commodity, using the word loosely, which should be subject to that kind of dominance.”

Opposition to the deal is crystalising around its likely impact on the digital music market. Specifically the expectation that a greater market share will make UMG even more willing to throw its weight around dictating the business models and features of digital services – to the detriment of independent labels in particular.

“I think the reason we’ve been growing is because at the moment, the digital marketplace is relatively open,” adds Mills. “My concern is that what this acquisition is about is trying to restrict that freedom and that ability to be nimble-footed and as I said, put the genie back in a bottle.”

Stuart Dredge

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