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UMG/EMI: The Next Innovation Bottleneck

August 15, 2012 AT&T , Comcast , Competition , Innovation , UMGEMI

While much attention has focused on whether European antitrust regulators will allow the major label Universal to buy one of its competitors, EMI, the proposed merger has also attracted the attention of US antitrust authorities in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Senate. In the US context, this merger bears some important similarities to recent proceedings like the Comcast/NBCU merger and the failed AT&T/T-Mobile merger.

Universal/EMI and AT&T/T-Mobile: Taking Over a Maverick Competitor

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Trying to Make it in Music? Why Artists Should Oppose the UMG-EMI Merger

June 26, 2012 Music , Music Licensing , UMGEMI

It is hard enough to land a job in a profession that accepts applications. So imagine chasing a career that depends on getting discovered. This is the reality for artists who aspire to sign a record deal with a major label. The four major record labels – Sony, EMI, Warner, and Universal (or UMG) – do not typically accept unsolicited submissions from artists. And to make matters worse, if UMG is successful in its bid to acquire EMI, artists could face an even steeper climb to success.

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Public Knowledge Testifies Against the Universal/EMI Merger

June 22, 2012 Music , UMGEMI

Yesterday I watched PK President and CEO Gigi Sohn, among others, testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights in a hearing on “The Universal Music Group/EMI Merger and the Future of Online Music.” Seeing the hearing in person was itself an achievement, as the line was already down the hall and around the corner an hour and a half before the scheduled start. Obviously, this is a subject people are interested in. PK, in particular, is concerned that allowing the largest record company to absorb the fourth largest would create a “super-major” label that would have too much control over methods of distribution and would harm consumer access to music.

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UMG-EMI Merger: Deja Vu All Over Again

June 20, 2012 Antitrust , Music Licensing , UMGEMI

Tomorrow I’ll be testifying against the merger of Universal Music Group (UMG) and EMI Music.  A merger between the 1st and 4th largest record companies, in our opinion, would result in a “super-major” label with a 41% market share that would be able to dictate the future of new digital music services. The combined entity could deny licenses to new services, charge them enormous licensing rates, or even take an equity stake in the service.  

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OMG, UMG! Why Four Major Labels Are Better Than Three.

March 7, 2012 Antitrust , Competition , Music , Music Licensing , UMGEMI

Right now the biggest record label in the world, Universal Music Group, is attempting to buy the fourth-largest record label, EMI, a move that could stifle the development of new digital music services to the detriment of musicians and their fans. If one company holds a large enough share of the recorded music market, new online music services will inevitable need to curry favor with that company in order to succeed, which gives that company (here, Universal) effective veto power over new services and competitors.

Today Public Knowledge and the Media Access Project filed a letter advising the Federal Trade Commission to investigate thoroughly how the proposed transaction will affect both artists and audiences before it lets the one of the “Big Four” major labels take over another. While we are not currently asking the FTC to necessarily block the deals outright, the deals pose some serious potential harms to musicians and consumers. The FTC should rigorously review the likelihood and scale of those harms before it decides whether it should approve the acquisitions in their current form.

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