Martin Mills, chairman and founder of the Beggars Group, has lodged a complaint with European regulators regarding the Universal Music Group acquisition of EMI’s recorded music division, according to an article at The Telegraph. Mills told the Sunday Telegraph the deal could create a “lowest common denominator music market” that would hurt niche artists who need retail space and publicity to become successful.
“We fear Universal’s acquisition of EMI,” Mills told the Sunday Telegraph. “The mere fact that it controls 50% of the artists that media and retail want already gives them leverage other companies don’t have. “[Adding EMI’s artists] obviously gives Universal more access, but it also gives other people less. When one party has the ability to be so dominant, it’s going to be difficult for anything outside the mainstream to come through. It [puts pressure] on the space on shop shelves and magazine front covers for less mainstream artists. Promotion is really the oxygen of sales and if other artists on other labels can’t get exposure, then they will suffer by comparison.”
Previously, Mills called the acquisition “breath-taking arrogance” in a January press release from independent rights group Impala. While that may or may not be an apt description, allow me to play devil’s advocate for a few paragraphs.
A merger’s impact on independent artists is difficult to grasp because some independents have fared well in the four-major system. With the help of Sony Music Entertainment and Mills’ Beggars Group, XL Records managed to turn Adele into a star in spite of Universal’s dominant market share and the efforts of Warner Music Group and EMI. Those competitors fight for space in retail stores, visibility on morning talk shows and coverage in magazines and newspapers.
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