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Impala warns of Sony’s “near monopoly grip” on European charts if EMI Music Publishing deal is cleared


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Impala warns of Sony’s “near monopoly grip” on European charts if EMI Music Publishing deal is cleared

Impala, representing the European independent music community, is upping its efforts to block Sony’s full acquisition of EMI Music Publishing, providing research it claims exposes how the bulking up of Sony would give it an iron grip on the national music charts across Europe.

Its research is based on analysis on the charts in major European markets in 2017 (Spain, Italy, UK, France, the Netherlands, Ireland and Sweden), concluding that if Sony is given full ownership of EMI Music Publishing it could control 70% – rising to 80% in certain weeks in certain markets – of the national charts. Impala has submitted its research and conclusions to the antitrust watchdog in Brussels, which has until the 26th of October to reach an initial view of the transaction (although that deadline could be extended under certain circumstances).

“These figures far exceed the maximum the EC has already established,” says Helen Smith, executive chair of Impala. “They reveal what we have been highlighting all along, that Sony would have a near monopoly grip over the charts. That would give it unprecedented market power over playlists, radio and other routes to market. This confirms the real risk of the transaction and the need for the EC to block it outright.”

Smith continues, “Bearing in mind that the EC has intervened previously where these shares exceeded 50%, to then reduce them to below 45% after divestments, this research underlines the huge risks associated with this transaction. Not one of the territories examined so far is within the EC’s own parameters for avoiding harm to consumers. These figures drive home the negative impact this take-over would have on cultural diversity and the need to stop this transaction outright.”

The numbers, it should be pointed out, are based on the identification of tracks featuring compositions controlled by Sony or EMI (so this could include co-writers or sampled material) and adding into that master recordings owned or distributed by Sony (bulked up enormously by its acquisition of Red, Essential, The Orchard, Finetunes and Phonofile), with the overlap removed.

Impala says it will extend its analysis to cover other European markets beyond the seven that the initial research was based on and submit those findings to the EU when they are ready.

Music Ally approached Sony about the market monopoly claims (as well as the research presented by Impala) but had received no response at the time of going to press. We will, of course, cover any reply from Sony should they choose to make one.

Eamonn Forde

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