Monday, April 22, 2024

Could the Beatles Wind Up with Bronfman’s Warner Music?


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.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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