Jim Carroll

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Every Mistake Imaginable

It’s not going to be a pleasant Tuesday for thousands of people employed by EMI Music worldwide as Guy Scissorhands reveals his plans for the company this morning at a cinema in west London. It’s also something of a D-Day …

Tue, Jan 15, 2008, 07:56

   

It’s not going to be a pleasant Tuesday for thousands of people employed by EMI Music worldwide as Guy Scissorhands reveals his plans for the company this morning at a cinema in west London. It’s also something of a D-Day for hundreds of acts signed to EMI and its many labels. Like what happened when Sony and BMG joined forces or, for those with longer memories, the fallout which occured after the consolidation which brought Universal Music came into being, there may be a lot of unemployed music executives and out-of-contract bands walking around by the end of today.

What music business observers and analysts will be looking at closely are the solutions to the problems which Hands and his men have already identified. Anyone can find problems – but it’s a far more difficult task coming up with real solutions other than more asset-stripping, downsizing and cutbacks designed to deliver shareholder value.

Indeed, the easy option for Hands would be to cut the company back to the bare bones, getting rid of all the acts and turning EMI into a catalogue pimp. That would be one way of dealing with the advances and development costs which he says have contributed hugely to losses at the company. Hands would be left with revenue streams from the existing catalogue and would face very few costs compared to the current situation.

If, however, Hands decides he wants to make a serious fist of owning a music company, he has many options to consider. Terminating the contracts of those acts who have yet to recoup on their advances would be one major step towards a streamlined, dedicated company, but this would be the equivalent of downsizing your R&D division and it would mean that the company would not have any new acts coming through. Placing all the company’s hopes in such acts as Coldplay, Robbie Williams and Kylie, three A-list acts still signed to the company, could well backfire on Hands. Acts don’t always co-operate with the best-laid plans of the suits.

Expect today’s announcement to dominate the music business wires for the rest of the week.

UPDATE Here’s the press release. Love the line about “the world’s most innovative, artist friendly and consumer-focused music company”.

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