The last big record label in the UK, E.M.I. Records has finally been sold to the Universal Music Group. The label boasts The Beatles, Coldplay, Kate Bush, Sex Pistols and Pink Floyd to name a few. At least it’s been bought by another record label which means it’s run for the music and not a quick buck!
These mergers and buyouts have been happening for over 20 years now, leaving just a few super companies (many iconic label names owned by a few). This does seem similar to when punk music promoted the DIY labels. The large dinosaur labels of the mid 70’s had become too slow to adapt to the fast-moving movement, so loads of new labels were spawned. Strangely enough these too have now either disappeared or have been swallowed up by the companies whom they despised. A prime example was Two Tone Records formed by the band The Specials was subsequently bought by Chrysalis Records who in turn were bought by E.M.I./Thorn.
Today brand names like Island, Motown, Harvest and Vertigo are merely just names now, they might as well be Label X. Sadly the people who formed and run them are long since gone from the business. The aforementioned labels held a sense of identity and tradition which attracted like-minded artists to sign for them. There are still some cool small labels like Beggars Banquet / 4AD whose name is still linked with quality independant bands.
So E.M.I. who has history dating back to the beginning of the phonographic industry with such iconic logo’s such as His Masters Voice, will keep going and not be part of some equity company. But with the advent of the internet and downloads do the record companies have as much power as in former times? Probably not but the industry needs them too to evolve, nurture new talent and promote. We shall see I guess.
The music publishing arm of E.M.I. looks like being purchased by Sony Music.