IMPALA Statement: Warner's purchase of Parlophone expected to counter music duopoly


With the announcement of Warner Music's successful bid for the Parlophone group, IMPALA sees the news as a step towards tackling the duopolisation of the music market by the two market leaders Universal and Sony.

The Parlophone group represents the biggest part of the divestments Universal gave up to win EC approval to buy EMI's recorded music operations last year. The Uni/EMI merger, along with the Sony/EMI merger met with opposition from IMPALA, the European trade body of independent music companies. IMPALA has confronted head on the series of mergers which have destroyed effective competition in the music market.

The two market leaders have been in an ever-stronger position on both publishing and recording over the past decade. Reacting to reports last month that Sony and BMG were conducting a joint bid for Parlophone, IMPALA raised concerns that the divestment process would simply reinforce the duopoly.

It is now hoped that strengthening Warner will help counter balance the duopoly across the whole market – digital, physical, access to radio etc.  At the same time, the gap with the independents will widen and this must be addressed, not only by reinforcing competition among the leaders but by strengthening the independents and allowing them to compete more effectively.

Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA said "We would expect to see a significant re-balancing effect as a result of this, after all, "two's company, three's a crowd". A stronger competitor to the Universal/Sony duopoly should make the market more open at all levels and give artists new opportunities. At the same time, we would expect this to be complemented by significant strengthening of the independent sector."