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SXSW Music 2013

Universal/EMI: Major Labels & Digital Distribution

This panel would discuss the impact or likely impact of the proposed merger between Universal Music Group and EMI on the development of online music services. The merger is pending and may be resolved by the end of the year, but whether or not the merger has been approved by next March, the panel can discuss the effects of that merger or of consolidation among record labels generally. Mergers between major labels like UMG and EMI--which own large catalogs of sound recording copyright and control distribution of some additional recordings released on independent labels--give large labels more leverage against new digital distribution services. The panel can discuss what incentives record labels have to cooperate with or attempt to control digital distribution services, and how those incentives are changed by consolidation in the industry.

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  1. What incentives do major labels have to license to digital music services or to demand particular conditions like an ownership share, advance payments, or high royalty fees?
  2. What is the impact of this merger on digital distribution services such as streaming services, online radio, and app developers?
  3. What is the impact of this merger on independent labels and unsigned artists?
  4. Does copyright infringement change the major labels' incentive to embrace new digital services, and has it done so in the past?
  5. Would EMI (or, post-merger, any given smaller label) be able to succeed on its own or under a different owner than UMG?



Jodie Griffin, Staff Attorney, Public Knowledge

Meta Information:

  • Tags: copyright
  • Event: Music
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Online Sales/Subscriptions
  • Level:
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