Citigroup has sold the EMI music business for $4.1 billion, with Universal Music Group picking up the record label for $1.9 billion and a team including Sony and David Geffen buying the publishing business for $2.2 billion. The sale caps a nine-month bidding war, and splits up a company that has sold and published music for over a century.
In a legal decision that could have a ripple effect on the digital download market, a British court has ruled that record label EMI can not sell songs from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album as individual downloads or ringtones.
After a McDonald’s microsite licensed one of Scottish rock band Franz Ferdinand’s without their direct approval, as record labels are wont to do, singer for the group Alex Kapranos tweeted some infelicitous words about the fast food joint. Specifically, “Dirty bastards. Stupid arrogant motherf***ing pig-brained arseholes. I’d rather eat a cowpat on a bun than a bloody McDonalds.” I dunno, Alex, have you tried their new Angus burgers? They’re pretty tasty and they come with a big slice of fresh onion. [@alkapranos via NME via Eater]
Today, MP3tunes’ CEO Michael Robertson sent out an email to all users of the online music backup and place-shifting service MP3tunes.com, asking them to help publicize EMI’s ridiculous and ignorant lawsuit against the company. EMI believes that consumers aren’t allowed to store their music files online, and that MP3tunes is violating copyright law by providing a backup service. (And we’re not using a euphemism here—it really is a backup/place-shifting service and not a file sharing site in disguise.)
Ever wonder why the big labels waste money funding trade groups like the RIAA? EMI, the British record company that was recently taken over by a private equity firm does, and a unnamed source tells Reuters that the new investors are thinking of cutting funding to the RIAA and other, similar trade groups.
According to the Inquirer, sales of “Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon increase by between 272 and 350 percent… OK Go’s Oh No increased 77 per cent. Coldplay’s A Rush Of Blood To The Head jumped 115 percent.”
Following Apple’s lead, Microsoft has announced that the Zune Marketplace will offer DRM-free downloads from EMI’s catalogue. Microsoft also claims to be discussing similar arrangements with other music labels.
“The EMI announcement on Monday was not exclusive to Apple,” said Katy Asher, a Microsoft spokeswoman on the Zune team, in an e-mail to the IDG News Service today. She said Microsoft has been talking with EMI and other record labels “for some time now” about offering unprotected music on its Zune players in an effort to meet the needs of its customers.
Microsoft has kept mum on the specifics. We don’t yet how the price or quality of Microsoft’s music will stack up against Apple’s offering, nor do we know when the DRM-free music will be made available on the Zune Marketplace. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that EMI, a Big Four music label and RIAA member, will release “significant amounts of its catalogue” unencumbered by DRM. The announcement from EMI is expected at an 8 a.m. EST press conference in London, featuring Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Privately most labels rejected the idea out of hand, but EMI, the world’s third-largest music company by sales, was already quietly exploring the idea of dropping DRM. EMI has struggled to overcome poor results and a laggard digital strategy, potentially contributing to its willingness to take a bold stance on DRM.
EMI will make the DRM-free portions of its catalogue available for download via iTunes. We wonder how the RIAA will react. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER
Four people, likely students, walked into the back of the room, all holding cardboard signs. One sign had a scythe attached and said, “Don’t fear the RIAAper.” Another guy had no pants on and had a sign that said, “The RIAA sued the pants off me.” Another girl had a sign that said, “Download like it’s 1999.” And the last girl had some spare change in her hand that was to go to “Metallica’s retirement fund.”