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SONGWRITER BODY OPPOSES SONY "SUPER-POWER"

British songwriter and composer body BASCA has joined independent music association IMPALA in opposing Sony’s acquisition of EMI Music Publishing as the deal undergoes scrutiny from the European Commission. The body raised concerns over a “Sony super-power” halting the progression of what they term “a balanced, diverse and competitive online marketplace for music.”

Last week, Sony completed its filing for the proposed takeover of EMI and the European Commission is now undertaking an initial assessment on the impact of the merger. It has 25 days to complete the study.

If the deal—which will nearly double Sony’s publishing catalog—is faced with enough resistance from competitors and those that work with the two companies, Sony will either present solutions to the concerns, or the EC will launch a more detailed investigation.

BASCA is asking for the Sony transaction to be blocked in favour of EMI being run as a standalone business, or to be combined with smaller music companies to guarantee a “fair and competitive market’” for European talent.

“At a time when the EU is looking to restore a balanced, diverse and competitive online marketplace for music, to allow the concentration of market leverage in this way seems antithetical to that purpose,” said Crispin Hunt, songwriter and Chair of BASCA. “As yet, there appears little evidence that the market-share-music-model will successfully deliver the flourishing musical environment that consumers desire.

“Sony is a great music company; indeed they acquired, publish and service much of my catalog. But if we are to heed the economic lessons of ‘too big to fail’, it seems incautious to concede near absolute control of the music market to one player.

“Setting up the music ecosystem so that it once again runs on competition as opposed to oligopoly is the key to a flourishing market, both online and off.”

In addition, Hunt suggests that the newly combined company could exert unfair dominance when it comes to influencing collective management organisations, which risks putting the expanding indie and self-releasing sector at a disadvantage. Songwriter Helienne Lindvall, speaking on behalf of BASCA’s songwriters committee, said there’s also a risk that individual creators won’t be properly served when part of a bigger, aggregated catalog.

 

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