Brussels, 22nd April
With Sony’s buy out of the late Michael Jackson estate's shares in Sony/ATV finalised this week, IMPALA has confirmed that it has serious concerns over the impact of the deal on Sony’s market power:
"The EU effectively set a limit three years ago due to concerns about prices. It is difficult to imagine how the Sony/ATV deal could secure approval from the European Commission.” commented IMPALA’s Executive Chair, Helen Smith.
The buy out would reinforce the market power of the world’s biggest music publisher and give it control over more of the world’s music than before. That was one of the concerns raised by the European regulators the last time Sony made an acquisition. The EU said it would raise prices, particularly for online services.
Brussels has an impressive track record on merger cases. When Sony bought EMI, it had to make concessions and Universal bought EMI records just three years ago, the EU really turned up the heat. Universal had to sell two thirds to get EC approval. That’s one the biggest set of divestments in history and highlights what IMPALA dubs “a real risk when market leaders get greedy". Universal also had to accept having its digital contracts monitored for ten years.
"If Sony ends up in the same position as Universal, that’s not quite what they had in mind.” added Helen Smith, flagging that there is an even bigger risk for the world’s biggest music publisher, and that is not getting it through at all.
IMPALA was established in April 2000 to represent independent music companies. 99% of Europe’s music companies are SMEs. Known as the “independents”, they are world leaders in terms of innovation and discovering new music and artists - they produce more than 80% of all new releases and account for 80% of the sector's jobs (for more information, see the features of independents). IMPALA's mission is to grow the independent music sector, return more value to artists, promote cultural diversity and entrepreneurship, improve political access and modernise perceptions of the music sector.
To celebrate IMPALA’s 15th anniversary, various initiatives are taking place across Europe under the “IMPALA 15” banner, including special editions of the IMPALA awards and events at industry gatherings such as Amsterdam Dance Event, Eurosonic Noorderslag, Tallinn Music Week, Westway Lab, Primavera, Midem, Reeperbahn etc. See the organisation's key achievements in IMPALA's first 15 years in milestones.