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EMI, clash of the Titans!


We’ve been telling you about the crisis that has hit the music industry for quite a while now. The proof of the matter lies in the fact that even the greatest of stars are affected now. For now, we will concentrate solely on the British music company which has been heading straight down to Hell.

Who would have thought that this famous record company responsible for many prestigious and popular artists could have ended this way? It’s time to evaluate this critical situation from which the company might never recover.



A little on EMI’s debut: the firm was created in 1897 under the name Gramophone Company. As the name suggests, originally, the company dealt with gramophones. In 1909, a dog listening to a gramophone became the company’s logo. This logo is still used today. Back in the day, people were literally leaping onto the company’s products, allowing them to become multinational. Very quickly, the music industry at the time, which consisted of gramophones and albums, became only a small part of what the Gramophone Company was offering. In fact, the company was also part of other markets including typewriters, radiotelephony and even in the hotel business.

The name Electric & Musical Industry (EMI) was made official in 1931 as a result of the fusion between Gramophone Company and Columbia Gramophone. This new version then took incredible proportions in 1962 when they signed The Beatles. This was a culminating point with was followed with the signing on of great names such as Pink Floyd, Sex Pistols, The Rolling Stones and Queen. The record company revelled in its success notably by acquiring the catalogues SBK and Chrysalis. This went on until 1996, the year in which it was decided to list EMI in the stock exchange. Then in 1979, the parent company Thorn bought the group. This decision meant that it was time to quickly take over the American market – one of EMI’s biggest weaknesses. This was made even harder due to the fact that artists such as Madonna, Celine Dion and Bruce Springsteen refuse to be signed unto the British label. Despite the fact that their success remained phenomenal in old Europe thanks to bands like Blur and Radiohead. However, they were still struggling over in the New Continent.


The Beatles

So EMI entered the year 2000s with a large handicap. In the last decade, the brand has been living a complete descent to Hell as a result of their inability to get past the collapse of the record industry and the overwhelming growth of downloading. In the same way as other major labels, EMI suffered massive losses. It was at this point that they wondered whether to draw an alliance with their long time rival, major American label Warner Music. From 2000 to 2007, both great companies attempt a coalition four times without success because of disputes concerning the promotion of the catalogue and management issues. Just after their last attempt, Terra Firma seized the opportunity and bought EMI. The head of the company is Guy Hands, who takes some very radical measures, even proposing a new way of stopping the music industry. As a result, disagreements with many of the artists started to surface.


Rolling Stones

It starts off in 2008 with a conflict made public between EMI, Robbie Williams and Coldplay who announce that they will be releasing their albums under different record companies. Not long after this, they suffer another blow as the Rolling Stones leave them to sign with Universal for their album Shine A Light. Despite Guy Hands’ efforts, EMI is unable to catch up with its economic deficit despite the radical restructuring. Many employees were made redundant as a result. That same year, Pink Floyd sues the British company because they refuse their songs to be downloaded individually. The band believes that the songs cannot be listened to separately or else it damages the artistic integrity. On the 12 March this year, Pink Floyd win the court case bringing on heavy consequences for the record company who weren’t even able to appeal during the trial. Not long after this defeat, EMI who are desperately hanging on, try one last attempt by calling British television veteran Charles Allen. However, last week another piece of bad news fell upon them as Paul McCartney removed all of his songs – except those done with The Beatles – from the EMI catalogue. Even though the sales had not be flourishing, the ex-Beatle took away classics such as “Band On The Run” and “Venus And Mars Are Alright Tonight”.


Pink Floyd

Charles Allen seems to be EMI’s last chance at survival. Will he really be able to save the record company from going under? Either way, it is sad to see such a prestigious record company giving in little by little. The Beatles, Queen and Pink Floyd were made famous through EMI. The British company were almost forced to get rid of the legendary Abbey Road studio in which all of the famous Beatles’ tracks were recorded. The situation had to be serious dyer in order for things to turn out this badly. In the meantime, it’s possible that on the other side of the Atlantic Warner are rubbing their hands together as they watch EMI’s fall, and wait for the right moment to blend or even buy the company according to some increasingly persistent rumours.

Translation : Izzy

Sources :
Le blog de Zégutwww.lesechos.frwww.buzzline.frwww.lesechos.fr



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