from the well-that-could-be-a-problem dept
A story earlier this week at the Huffington Post, does a really nice job laying out how this deal effectively gives a few Universal Music execs veto power over any new music startup. Because if you're launching a music service today, you generally want it to offer a lot of popular music, and between Universal Music and EMI, they control a huge portion of that market -- much of it historical back catalog stuff, but also some of the more popular mega-acts today. The HuffPo writeup notes that Steve Jobs played the labels off of each other to get them to sign on to iTunes. But, today, the new UMG could control that process.
According to Paul Vidich, a former Warner Music executive who closed the iTunes deal, the pending merger between Universal and EMI could put an end to that state of affairs.Remember, Universal is the company whose former CEO, Doug Morris, once gleefully explained how he didn't understand technology and didn't even try to hire someone who did, because he wouldn't know how. Amazingly, his board let him keep his job for many years (he's since moved on to head up Sony Music). Morris' replacement at UMG, Lucian Grainge, has talked about how the CD format is important to the company's future. And he's now basically the guy with veto power over any new music service.
"Without a UMG-EMI license, they won't have a business," said Vidich, referring to new digital startups. "Within the new UMG-EMI there will be only a handful of senior executives who make these key licensing decisions. So this small group will become the gatekeepers for music startups that require these licenses. The psychology, pay packages and strategic interests of these executives will have an outsized impact on diversity and innovation in the entire online music industry."
That does not bode well for the online digital music marketplace.