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European songwriter organisation joins calls for regulators to block Sony’s EMI deals

By | Published on Tuesday 9 October 2018

EMI Music Publishing

The European Composer & Songwriter Alliance is the latest organisation to urge the European Commission to block Sony’s plans to take complete control of EMI Music Publishing. The organisation – which brings together songwriter associations across Europe – says that Sony’s proposed deals would “threaten competition in the licensing market, endanger music authors’ revenues across the EU and ultimately jeopardise cultural diversity in the European music landscape”.

Sony, of course, is seeking to buy out the other partners who were part of a consortium that bought EMI Music Publishing back in 2012. Since that deal, Sony’s global music publisher – Sony/ATV – has administered the EMI songs catalogue, but not owned it outright. The proposed new deals would give Sony complete control of the EMI repertoire and allow it to properly merge the Sony/ATV and EMI music publishing businesses. That would make by far the biggest music publisher in the world, sitting alongside the second biggest recorded music company, ie Sony Music.

Pan-European indie music companies trade group IMPALA has been outspoken about Sony’s EMI deals since they were first announced, calling on competition regulators in Europe to block the transactions. UK songwriter organisation BASCA then officially opposed Sony’s EMI deals last week, and it was joined by ECSA yesterday.

The pan-European songwriter body’s President, Alfons Karabuda, told reporters: “We believe that allowing such a major and dominant publisher in the market is not only detrimental to a competitive market place but will also lead to a net loss for Europe’s culturally diverse music landscape. If approved, such a deal can only further exacerbate the domination of the top Anglo-American repertoire to the detriment of millions of music authors’ works that are very often not exploited nor promoted by major publishers”.

Echoing BASCA’s statement last week, Karabuda also raised concerns about the impact Sony’s EMI deals could have on the collective licensing system in Europe, which is much more significant on the songs side of the music business.

Sony may cite the power of the European collecting societies or ‘collective management organisations’ – which often lead on licensing deals – as a reason why a combined Sony/ATV/EMI won’t distort the song licensing market. But songwriters fear a joined up Sony/ATV/EMI would have too much sway over the collecting societies, and also that further consolidation might lead to more direct licensing of repertoire, something the big publishers already do with Anglo-American catalogues in the digital domain.

Karabuda continued: “Major music publishers are already increasingly withdrawing their rights from CMOs and exercise a considerable pressure over them, with detrimental impacts on music authors’ revenues. If approved, the ‘de facto’ creation of the biggest publisher in the world will further dismantle the collective management of rights which benefits hundreds of thousands music authors”.

Concluding, the ECSA President said: “We urge the European Commission to block the deal and thus make the right choice for music author’s rights and a competitive and culturally diverse European music landscape”.