Friday, May 17, 2024

Beatles: Universal-EMI Deal Still Has Gray Areas


The $1.9 billion deal to sell EMI to Universal Music Group is apparently done. The decade-old plan to merge EMI with Warner Music is over, kaput, forever. EMI’s biggest group, The Beatles, now goes to Universal Music Group. Or does it? The Beatles’ Apple Corps has unique arrangements with EMI, very different than most artists. A Beatle insider talked to me about this a few weeks ago. Apple Records and EMI are partners in their deal for Beatles albums. It’s not like the Beatles are simply part of the EMI inventory. So it will be interesting to see how Apple, which has been notoriously aggressive since the day it was conceived in 1968, will just play along. For example, Apple exacted a $500 million settlement out of Steve Jobs for infringement of the Apple trademark. As well, in order to bring the Beatles to Apple’s ITunes one year ago, it’s understood that ITunes pays the Beatles directly, and then the Beatles’s Apple pays EMI. If you don’t think this adds up to a lot of money, let me tell you: the Beatles stereo box set is still a top seller at $179. With a paucity of music created by rappers, hip hoppers, and pop samplers from 1985 on, older catalogs are worth more and more. The Beatles’ is worth the most. So we’ll wait and see if Apple (Records, that is) is happy with the EMI deal in the long run. “They could just as easily buy out their portion and move on,” said my source. True enough. At this point, the Beatles could be their own label without any trouble. And they do plan more releases in the next few years under their innovative leader, Jeff Jones.

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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