You read earlier this week that EMI Music, desperate to settle its staggering debt, is thinking of licensing its recorded music to another label for release.
And standing in the wings: Edgar Bronfman’s hit-starved, lackluster Warner Music Group. For eons there has been the expectation — nay, anticipation– that WMG would merge with, absorb, or devour what’s left of EMI.
I love the reports that say EMI artists include Katy Perry, the Beatles, and Pink Floyd.
Actually, EMI is really just the Beatles. Nothing else matters. In this last year, the Beatles remastered CDs were the bulk of the business at EMI. Because the Beatles music is not legally downloadable, fans are forced to buy their CDs. And so, with the silver disc in decline, it remains popular in one area: Beatles. Want “Sgt. Pepper”? You gotta buy it.
So the question is, Will the Beatles allow EMI to sell them off to WMG, a company with albums number 18 and 20 on the charts, no other hits, no prospect of hits. The Fab Four have been on Capitol Records since 1964. It’s a little unclear whether they would simply acquiesce to being put in the hands of another non existent record company.
What does make sense: the Beatles going to Sony. The songs of Lennon and McCartney are already owned by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the joint venture with Michael Jackson’s estate. And while plenty of acts have their recording and publishing split, at least with Sony the main EMI acts would be in good hands. Sony (Columbia/Epic, BMG, RCA, etc) is at least an active record company. It wouldn’t be a complete surprise if the Beatles steered the sinking EMI ship in that direction.
PS The best selling album in the US right now is by Lady Antebellum on — ironically– EMI’s Capitol Nashville label.