BASCA speaks out against Sony's EMI Music Publishing deal

BASCA speaks out against Sony's EMI Music Publishing deal

The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) has added its voice to opposition of Sony's planned acquisition of EMI Music Publishing

The European Commission is actively considering the deal following notification of the acquisition, with the EU competition authorities having until October 26 to make an initial assessment.

Last week, European indies trade body IMPALA urged European regulators to fully investigate the deal, with executive chair Helen Smith arguing the deal "would disrupt competition and harm consumers in an already overly concentrated music market". 

BASCA says the move would lead to the creation of a Sony "major-superpower" and is calling for it to be blocked in favour of EMI being run as either a standalone business or combined with smaller music companies "to guarantee a fair and competitive market for European talent". 

Crispin Hunt, songwriter and chair of BASCA, said: “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. As yet, there appears little evidence that the, unchallengeable dogma of the, market-share-music-model will successfully deliver the flourishing musical environment that consumers desire."

Sony is already the largest music publisher in the world, as well as the second biggest music label. BASCA said that, if sale goes through, Sony stands to nearly double its publishing catalogue, growing it from 2.16 million to 4.21m compositions, "securing a potential hegemony of the global music market".

"Sony is a great music company; indeed they acquired, publish and service much of my catalogue. 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," said Hunt. "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." 

Hunt added: “While we recognise the advantage of large music companies in securing value for collective licenses, we also note that large catalogues can exert an asymmetric influence on CMO’s. Naturally, such catalogues tend to optimise policies for the convenience of the big guys, which could disadvantage the expanding indie and self-releasing sector. The CMO network provides a critical lifeline for most music creators and indie publishers alike. Gigantic catalogues can be good for business — but a Titanic one?” 

Speaking on behalf of the BASCA Songwriters Committee, Helienne Lindvall said: “Creators should expect that their copyrights will be known to the publisher and exploited fully. They should also expect their publishers to work closely with them on a personal level to develop their careers. The opposite has been found to be true for songwriters and composers – including myself – when their rights are transferred from their original publisher to a corporation such as Sony, in merging vast catalogues.” 

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