October 30, 2020

Media Decoder Blog: Warner Music Makes a Deal With Small Labels

When the Universal Music Group agreed to pay $1.9 billion for EMI’s recorded music business in late 2011, it faced major opposition from independent groups, who feared that Universal — already the biggest music conglomerate — would gain too much market power. Last year, European regulators ordered Universal to sell about a third of EMI’s recorded assets as a condition for approving the transaction.

The Warner Music Group, a smaller rival, is acting quickly to avoid the same regulatory headache for its recent $765 million deal for most of the assets EMI sold. It has struck an agreement with two independent trade groups to sell or license “a significant portion” of that music to small companies, according to a joint announcement on Tuesday by Warner and the two groups, Impala and Merlin.

The announcement did not specify which assets — or even how much music — would be made available as a part of the agreement, and a Warner spokesman declined to comment further.

The catalog that Warner bought, known as the Parlophone Label Group, includes two of EMI’s flagship labels, Parlophone and EMI Records; the EMI and Virgin classical catalogs; several formerly independent record companies; and a number of subsidiary companies across Europe.

Warner’s Parlophone deal is subject to the approval of European regulators. The news of Warner’s deal with the independents was first reported by The Financial Times.

Impala, a group in Brussels that represents thousands of small music companies, lobbied aggressively against Universal’s original deal, arguing that it would disrupt the balance of power among the three remaining major labels. In a statement included in Tuesday’s announcement, Helen Smith, the group’s executive chairwoman, signaled her approval of Warner’s Parlophone deal — or at least a lack of opposition to it.

“Having not blocked the sale of EMI,” Ms. Smith said, “the result we have negotiated offers regulators the ‘best of both worlds’ in strengthening the independents by bringing more scale into the sector and by creating a more effective challenger to the Universal-Sony duopoly.”

Ben Sisario writes about the music industry. Follow @sisario on Twitter.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/warner-music-makes-a-deal-with-small-labels/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Economix: Buying Influence at Universities

Over the years there have been concerns about donors’ subtle influence at universities. Professors might be reluctant to research gas taxes, for example, if the building they work in is named after Chevron.

As schools become more desperate for money, though, donors are finding opportunities to become more directly influential.

The St. Petersburg Times reported on Tuesday that Charles G. Koch, one of the billionaire brothers at Koch Industries, has pledged $1.5 million to Florida State University to be used for hiring in the economics department. In exchange, his representatives get to “screen and sign off on” the hires.

Another philanthropist is using donations to shape classroom curricula. Bloomberg reported that John Allison, the former chairman of the banking company BBT, is working through the company’s foundation to give schools grants up to $2 million. The condition is that they must agree to create a course on capitalism that has “Atlas Shrugged” on the reading list.

The article reports that 60 schools, including at least four campus of the University of North Carolina, have begun teaching the book as a result of accepting the foundation money.

Are the strings attached to these gifts too stringent?

One could argue that such conditions compromise academic freedom, and allow the education of today’s impressionable youth to be dictated by the highest bidder. But colleges are not required to accept these gifts. If they found the conditions truly objectionable — or at least if their objections outweighed the additional good the money could do — they could always graciously decline the money.

As an aside, donors frequently complain that the balance of power usually tilts too far in the opposite direction: that donors usually have too little say in determining how their money gets spent, whether at educational institutions or other nonprofits.

There was the Robertson case at Princeton, for example, in which the heirs to the A.P. grocery fortune argued that Princeton was not adequately using their family’s gift to promote public service, as it had been intended. More recently, in January, the University of Connecticut made headlines after a donor asked for his $7 million gift back because the school had not included him in its search for a new football coach.

What do you think?

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=9b6e6715958d020033dc81bf68986d15