EMI acquisition ‘could reduce choice for creators’ warns BASCA

Crispin Hunt - Gold Badge Awards 2017 - photo Mark Allan

The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) has raised concerns over Sony’s bid to acquire EMI Music Publishing, saying it will create a ‘major superpower’.

Sony is currently seeking approval from the European Commission for its acquisition of EMI Music Publishing.

But, as the largest music publisher in the world, and the second biggest music label, BASCA has warned the merger ‘would limit creator choice and could potentially undermine the future autonomy of creator rights’.

If the sale goes through, Sony stands to nearly double its publishing catalogue, growing from 2.16 million to 4.21 million compositions.

BASCA said the move would create a ‘major superpower with new capability to dominate licensing markets’ and raise serious implications for the autonomy of collective rights management.

Instead, the academy is calling for the Sony transaction to be blocked in favour of EMI being run as a standalone business, or else combined with smaller music companies to guarantee a fair and competitive market for European talent.

Crispin Hunt (pictured above), 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 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. 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.’

Commenting on behalf of the BASCA songwriters committee, Helienne Lindvall added: ‘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.’