Universal cements music publishing lead

By | January 28, 2008 at 6:06 PM

Universal Music’s publishing division has overtaken EMI as the world’s leading major music publisher, according to market research on Monday. Music & Copyright (M&C), which is published by Informa said Universal’s market share among major music groups rose to 24 percent in 2007 from 11.9 percent a year earlier.

Over the same period, EMI’s music publishing share remained steady at 17 percent. Independent publishers account for around one third of the global market.

EMI was bought by private equity firm Terra Firma, which earlier this month announced plans to cut up to 2,000 jobs at the music company as part of a plan to rebuild the group.

Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) is owned by French media and telecoms conglomerate Vivendi.

Last year, the European Commission approved Universal Music

Group’s $2.2 billion acquisition of BMG Music Publishing, giving it access to thousands of song rights by artists including Coldplay, Christina Aguilera and Barry Manilow.

“When the divestitures that the Commission has demanded as part of its approval are made, probably by the end of February, the global market share of UPMG will fall slightly, but there is no doubt that it will remain the global (and European) leading music publisher, the Informa publication said in a statement.

M&C said it estimates that the music publishing industry’s European turnover in 2006 accounted for 41 percent of combined publishing and recorded music sales. Five years earlier the equivalent figure was 38 percent. In 1996 it was 29 percent.

According to M&C the value of music publishing has risen in Europe from $3.6 billion in 1996 to $5.2 billion in 2006 while recorded music sales have fallen from $9 billion to 7.5 billion.

Music groups have been struggling to combat falling sales globally while revenues from publishing have been boosted by growth in activities such as merchandising, touring and selling music via the Internet and mobile applications.

“From this perspective it is clear why the price of music catalogues have risen so dramatically in recent years and why the current bidding war for Chrysalis is so feverish,” said M&C editor Phil Hardy.

EMI is one of many companies to have tabled a bid for the British music group, which is the label for Blondie and David Bowie, sources involved with the situation told Reuters earlier this month. Indicative bids have also come in from several other groups including Warner Chappell, the music publishing arm of Warner Music.

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