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Beggars man expands on his opposition to Universal’s EMI deal

By | Published on Monday 16 April 2012

Martin Mills

That the Beggars Group is opposed to Universal’s bid to buy the EMI record companies is no secret.

The top man there, Martin Mills, criticised the takeover plans when they were first announced last November, and his company are big supporters of efforts in Europe, being led by indie labels trade body IMPALA, to persuade EC competition regulators to block the acquisition. But this weekend Mills was interviewed by the Sunday Telegraph, and gave some more thoughts on the deal.

He told the paper: “We fear Universal’s acquisition of EMI. The mere fact that it controls 50% of the artists that media and retail want already gives them leverage other companies don’t have. [Adding EMI’s artists] obviously gives Universal more access, but it also gives other people less. When one party has the ability to be so dominant, it’s going to be difficult for anything outside the mainstream to come through”.

He continued: “It [puts pressure] on the space on shop shelves and magazine front covers for less mainstream artists. Promotion is really the oxygen of sales and if other artists on other labels can’t get exposure, then they will suffer by comparison”.

Mills added that while an uber-powerful Universal might be good news for pop acts, who might be picked up by the record company and benefit from all its promotional power, for real game changing artists, who, the Beggars man argues, traditionally emerge from the indie sector, an overly powerful mega-major will be bad news.

“Look at people from Elvis Presley to Prodigy to Oasis. All of those came from tiny labels”, he said. “They all came up with something amazing, and the market was open enough to allow them to bloom and flourish. That’s the opposite to the intention of this deal”.

As previously reported, the EC has begun a full three month investigation into Universal’s EMI bid, and is expected to announce its conclusions in August.