Brussels - 26th January 2012
As reports circulate of regulatory filings in Europe weeks after the USA, independent music companies confirm their opposition to the proposed sale of EMI to Universal and Sony, the world's biggest music companies. Protest is also spreading at national level, following initiatives led by independent associations such as AIM in the UK, while European body IMPALA fully expects regulators in both the USA and Europe to block the transactions outright.
Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA, commented: “Neither the USA nor Europe wants to see the music sector become a two-horse race, devoid of competition from any other companies.”
IMPALA also confirmed it has already made initial submissions to both the FTC and the European Commission, setting out the concerns of the independent sector regarding the plan by Universal and Sony to carve up EMI, their second closest rival, between them.
Recent statistics show that, although independent artists account for 80% of all new releases, they make up less than 6% of the Top 100 for airplay and downloads across Europe. The EC has ruled that control of the Top 100 is important because it makes up 60-80% of online revenues. More diversity would be expected in the Top 1000, but even there, fewer than 10% of the artists are independent.
A new report by Emmanuel Legrand for EMO and Eurosonic/Noorderslag highlights that Universal/EMI and Sony alone would account for 76% of the Top 200 European airplay and downloads. The report also shows that USA repertoire dominates key European territories, accounting for 50% of radio play and download sales.
This new evidence will concern the regulators when the weighing up whether two companies should control such a large proportion of the world's music, in terms of both recording and publishing.
Reports in the past few days indicate that ratings agency Moody's has placed the credit score of Universal’s owner, French media giant Vivendi, on review for a downgrade because of the “regulatory risks”, confirming wider concerns that Universal might have bitten off more than it can chew.
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. SME’s also produce 80% of Europe’s jobs. Their potential is enormous but is hampered by complex barriers to trade and severe market access problems. The impact on diversity, consumer choice and pluralism is clear. Over 95% of what most people hear and see, whether on radio, retail or the internet, is concentrated in the hands of four multinationals, known as the majors.
Cultural and creative SMEs are now officially recognised by the EU as “the drivers of growth, job creation and innovation”. IMPALA expects the EC and its member countries to put in place key investment, digital and market access measures. Fostering Europe's economy of culture and diversity is one of the EU's top priorities in becoming the world's leading knowledge economy. Culture is a bigger earner than any of chemicals, automobiles or ICT manufacturing and provides more than 3% of Europe's jobs. IMPALA has its own award schemes to help promote cultural diversity and new talent and highlight the artistic contribution of independent music. IMPALA award winning artists include Efterklang, Adele, Manu Chao, Radiohead, Agnes Obel, Caro Emerald and Sigur Ros.