You probably don’t need us to tell you that Warner Music Group agreed a £487m deal to buy the Parlophone label group from Universal Music Group.
It’s expected to close later this year, although that depends on getting regulatory approvals. The deal includes EMI’s recorded music operations from several European countries, as well as Parlophone artists including Coldplay, Daft Punk and Iron Maiden.
So what’s today’s angle on the deal? Unusually for major-label consolidation, it’s actually being welcomed by the most-vocal independent bodies.
“This is a positive result for our members,” said Merlin’s Charles Caldas in a statement. “Throughout this process, we have been clear that a market featuring two ‘maxi-majors’ with a crowd trailing in the distance spelt danger for innovative new digital services.”
Impala’s Helen Smith boiled this down neatly: “Two’s a company, three’s a crowd.”
With a joint bid from Sony Music and BMG having failed, the theory is that three strong major labels will provide enough competition to ensure digital music services aren’t squeezed till the pips squeak in negotiations by the one or two most powerful players.
Which is not to say all three won’t try to squeeze – of course they will – just that the threat of NOT licensing may be alleviated. It’s an optimistic view.
The key challenge in 2013, certainly for Merlin, is to ensure its members are taken seriously by existing and new digital services.
Three not-so-maxi majors may be the outcome it was hoping for, but now it can focus on shaking the likes of Myspace out of their assumption that in the era of Adele, indies are still part of that crowd trailing in the distance.