UMG close EMI deal

So, yesterday UMG finished dealing with regulators and closed their EMI deal. The worst aspect for me is I have to edit my Major labels page on the web site, I don’t think it makes much difference otherwise. For the last two decades and especially since 2000 the Major labels have acted together and generally taken their lead from UMG.

What is the competitive range of Major label business behaviour regarding iTunes, Spotify or BBC Radio One? They all play exactly the same. Who tries to undercut the others on Pandora? None. Which Major plays in the emerging Internet music business? None.

I see Merlin, Impala and the big indies put in a token objection. How differently do they behave with those same business interests? How do they compete? By following the herd—it’s not really a game for competitors.

But never mind all that, here is the news. These are the most informative links about the UMG/EMI deal (complete with Billboard’s inability to spell “Parlophone”, the legendary record label of the best selling band of all time).

CMU

Timeline
EMI CEO Roger Faxon’s email to staff
Merlin expresses disappointment at Universal/EMI approval
US Bureau Of Competition statement on Universal/EMI approval
Universal’s £1.2 billion EMI bid approved without remedy in the US
The European Commission’s statement on Universal’s EMI deal
Universal’s EMI purchase gets European approval – up to 60% of EMI’s European assets to be sold
Sony initiates sale of EMI catalogues agreed with regulator

PaidContent

Universal/EMI must sell crown jewels to protect iTunes challengers

NPR

Universal’s Purchase Of EMI Gets Thumbs Up In U.S. And Europe

The Guardian

Universal-EMI deal: the day the music died

Billboard.biz

Universal’s Deal for EMI No Longer a Sure Thing, But Still Worthwhile
FAQ on Approval of Universal Music – EMI Deal
Universal-EMI: Lucian Grainge, IMPALA, Martin Mills, Other Reactions to Deal’s Approval
Universal Music-EMI Merger: UMG Struck Gold With PolyGram in the 1990s, Can They Do It Again?

Amanda pays, what do I think?

Well, fair enough. It’s her career.

As you may know I supported Amanda Palmer for using volunteers. Even now that she pays all her musicians including locals, she still uses other volunteers, and I think she was and is right. If she wants to do something different she’s still right. That’s the beauty of DIY. You choose and you can never be wrong.

Here’s the thing. Independent musicians today inevitably start off with a lot of help. They need it, they use it, they love it. I love it. The people who run house concerts, lend instruments and support and feed artists are not normal fans. DIY musicians seem different and act differently to remote businesses that persistently balance the books and try to make a profit. I would rather need people than need money. I would rather have people I don’t know volunteer than see helpers queue up for cash.

But the blogosphere has drawn a line over Amanda’s musicians and made her change her mind. Now, if you publicly sell 24,000 albums and a global tour there are limits to the volunteers bystanders will allow. I think this makes us all worse off. Just imagine if local musicians could join Coldplay, U2 or Lady Gaga on stage for fun, wouldn’t that be rather splendid? Just for kicks? I wouldn’t give them house room but it would be a fabulous thing.

But no. They’re too rich to have that kind of fun. Too rich for volunteers.

24,000 albums is not much for today’s music business. UMG, Sony or WMG would drop you like a stone for selling 24,000 albums. In fact they’d drop you for selling 20 times that many. That’s what they did in 2000. Almost every 500,000 album Major label artist was dropped after the crash started. Major labels today only want platinum artists, if you sell less than a million you’re on life support.

Unfortunately mass media stories tend to set the standard. Every successful Kickstarter artist will be hounded over volunteers now. Amanda Palmer may even be hounded for remaining volunteers until her business is pared down to the dull, purely profitable model the righteous blogosphere will accept. Independent? Not much apparently.

I saw numerous blogs describe AFP as “one of the 1%” or equally ludicrously “a millionaire”. Those innumerate dullards seem to think that $1.2 million (less the cost of 24,000 albums, a world tour, etc.) makes you as rich as Mitt Romney and the arseholes of Wall Street—English readers: the City of London. You can’t educate that kind of ignorance.

Of course, there were others who simply believe every pro musician must always be paid. I disagree with them too, vehemently, but I can understand why they think that. It’s OK for them to be wrong.

My Theatre Is Evil CD arrived in the post  today with free extras (I’ve been playing the download for a week or so). $25 including Kickstarter commission and international postage—that’s art and cheap. As far as I’m concerned Amanda Palmer delivered. The commentators who don’t like her business model would do well to give us something that good and make 24,000 people happy. I won’t be holding my breath.