EMI Would Have Been Nice

EMI “would have been nice to have,” one of Bertelsmann’s top execs has told Financial Times.

Hartwig Masuch, who heads BMG Rights Management, a joint venture with U.S. private equity house KKR, also made it clear his company is “not going to raise any red flags” in front of anti-trust regulators because the English firm’s music-publishing business eventually went to Sony ATV.

“We have no problem with the competitive landscape post-EMI. The sector is shaking out,” he explained. The independents have made it clear that they’re not happy about the deal – or about the one that saw EMI’s recorded music business go to Universal.

Masuch also shared his views on the state of the publishing and recorded music businesses, telling FT that cheap digital technology and the Internet have put production and distribution firmly into the hands of singers and writers.

“Artists don’t necessarily want creative intermediaries anymore,” he explained.

He said they no longer need big labels such as Universal or Sony, which once controlled access to expensive recording studios.

“BMG does not have a huge artists and repertoire department telling artists what colour to dye their hair,” he said. “But we do promise to look after their music rights – and we’re good at collecting their money.”

In the future, BMG will focus on the fact the content-producing record giant of the vinyl era has to become the content-brokering music company of the Web age.

“The position of content providers is growing stronger. The middle men have to redefine how they add value,” he said.
Rather than recording songs and packaging stars, BMG manages the rights and royalties artists command over their songs.

It has more than 1 million titles and expects its 2010 publisher revenue to hit $290 million. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation are equal to about 25 percent of sales.

In the last two years, BMG Rights Management has bought five rivals including Bug in the U.S. and Chrysalis in the UK, and Masuch says it will continue to scouring the globe for other attractive catalogues.