Music Managers on the Move

Some recent coverage of executives taking new jobs in the music industry takes a rather religious tone. Yahoo loses its musical soul is how Mike Arrington described the departure of Ian Rogers to become CEO of Topspin Media. Can Doug Merrill Save Music? asked Stephen Wildstrom, reporting on another move. Staci D. Kramer interviewed Doug, the Google CIO who is leaving… to join EMI as president of digital business.

I think that there’s a rather big difference between saving music and saving EMI. If music needs saving, then I think its rather more likely to be saved by Topspin, with its mission to help independent artists make a living, than by anyone at EMI or any other major label.

It Was 30 Years Ago Today…

… that the Sex Pistols played their last show. It was at Winterland in San Francisco. One of the songs they played was “EMI.” I stumbled upon this clip when it occurred to me that I should have included audio or video of this song in the previous post.

In 1978 I was in college. I wasn’t as impressed with the Pistols or with punk as I should have been. Now I look at the Wikipedia entry for the band, and love quotes such as this one.

“One witness claimed the Sex Pistols were doing something so disgusting that she could not repeat it for publication . . . it became generally believed Jones had been vomiting on old ladies in the preflight lounge”… EMI released the band from their contract two days later. “I don’t understand it,” Rotten remarked at the time. “All we’re trying to do is destroy everything.”

EMI With 2005 Fewer People

EMI is planning a workforce cut of 2000, or 36%. Mashable Sean reports two aspects of the cut: consolidation of operations among the 40 or so EMI labels; and reduction in marketing. The other 5 people referred to in the title of the current post are the 5 members of Radiohead, who famously struck out on their own last year.

Glyn Moody has some well-chosen words to describe EMI’s new management: private equity companies… have the virtue of being ruthlessly logical: they are not enslaved by history, just by greed.

Glyn quotes from an FT article on Terry Hands of Terra Firma, the private equity firm that acquired EMI for 3.2 billion pounds. (Yes, that’s UK money, real money, not the distressed dollar.) Hands describes Terra Firma as a “contrarian investor” that makes its biggest profits when accused of overpaying.

EMI is perhaps the most interesting of the big 4 record labels, given the Radiohead defection, the Terra Firma acquisition, and EMI’s status as the world’s leading independent music company. And, as many of us have remarked before, 2008 may be a pivotal year for the music business.