By now you’ll surely know all about the EC and FTC’s approvals of Universal’s EMI deal on Friday, so we’ll spare you the basic details beyond noting that the acquisition is finally expected to close on 28 September.
EMI boss Roger Faxon has confirmed that he will step down, as UMG turns its attention to actually making the divestments required of it by the European regulators. Potential buyers are already circling.
Let’s think about some digital implications, then. Indie body Merlin isn’t happy. “We now have to face the possibility that the digital market could be dictated and controlled by two super majors (Universal and Sony), which would not be a healthy outcome,” said CEO Charles Caldas in a statement calling for the sell-off process to “involve buyers who can ensure effective ongoing competition in the digital market”.
We’re as interested in what UMG boss Lucian Grainge has been saying about the deal, and about digital more generally. Which includes slapping down the digital-dominance claims.
“I have a responsibility and duty to various stakeholders, primarily artists and the creative ecosystem, to create and sell as much music in as many ways and on as many platforms in an as agnostic a way as I humanly can,” he told The Guardian. “Google, Apple, Amazon, Spotify, we are out there fighting, hunting to get this in as many places as possible.”
Neatly sidestepping the fact that criticism focuses on how UMG may drive its negotiations with such services, rather than on whether it will or won’t be on them at all. But separately, Grainge has expressed his enthusiasm for the app-based rebirth of mobile music – something Music Ally has been bullish about since the dawn of modern app stores.
“The trends that we are seeing alongside the spread of the latest technology, from tablet computers to the Android phones, make emerging markets increasingly attractive for digital music – and that’s paid-for digital music or digital music with revenues attached in some form,” said Grainge.
“We are looking at countries where there are consumers who are interested in international artists as well as local artists, like India, Brazil, Turkey, Egypt.”
A reminder that when it comes to UMG’s digital negotiations – and whether they have a harder edge as a result of its increased market share – the scrutiny should be as much on these emerging markets as on its dealings with Spotify, Amazon, Google and the rest in the developed world.