# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Miscellaneous - Features

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 24 / 8 / 2007

Miscellaneous - Features


In the latest in his 'Condemned to Rock 'n' Roll' compilation, Ben Howarth looks at the decision of the Chief Executive of EMI to resign, and the long-term effects this may have on music

The news that the Chief Executive of EMI has resigned, despite pledges in recent months that he had a bold strategy to resurrect the company, and has been replaced by a younger, more glamorous business whizzkid type may not have made the news pages of the 'NME' but it is demonstration of the significant changes the music industry has been affected by. Changes that it has largely failed to respond well to. The former chief executive was well liked by people in the music industry and that ever popular wider community of huge international corporations. It was felt that he was a bold strategic thinker, capable of delivering dividends for shareholders without compromising the long term sustainability of the businesses' product. So for us, he’d ensure we kept having music we wanted to buy stuck on the shelves in front of our eyes. And yet, during his time in charge of EMI it never happened. Profits dipped dramatically, and there is still no resolution of the issue of who will hold the copyright and selling powers for music if the internet becomes the primary medium through which it is acquired. It really shouldn’t be as complicated as they make it, and yet no answer ever seems to emerge. Downloads seem flawless except for one mega problem - once your computer crashes, and it will, you no longer own any of that music. This alone should surely be enough to ensure that we simply buy CDs and then use mp3 players for the train into work, instead of clunky Discmans. Many readers, particularly for a site that tries to focus as exclusively as it can on music that is ’independent’ of major labels, will probably think this is a good thing that this corporate giant is struggling. I don’t. EMI is a historic label, and while it’s primary function has been to make people very rich, it has also released some fine music. Like HMV it is an institution. The entire culture of popular music in the UK revolves around these two companies, more so than any other. If they do cease to exist in any meaningful form - and there is a fair argument to say that they won’t still be here in a decade, or at least that if they do it will be through radical and probably unpleasant changes - then they will take other chunks of the music industry with them. Indie labels have been able to make money often because they can push their bands into spheres of influence that have been opened up by huge labels. They will never be independent of major labels, because they sell the same product to the same people in pretty much the same way. But, EMI takes up more than one chapter of the history of music. Put simply: The greatest band ever, the Beatles, recorded for them. If anyone wants to look at popular music beyond the year in which they first started taking an interest in it, then at some point they will look at EMI. I’m all for declining CD prices, (who isn’t, unless they own a record shop) - particularly of back catalogue material as it makes up the bulk of my shopping list. But I’m also sure that the prospect of being rich, famous and influential is what keeps a lot of bands off drugs long enough to record a decent song or two. Yes, EMI is being given a poke on the nose for a complacent attitude that often seems to imply that it is the public’s fault (rather than their own) that the sales of their albums are declining so sharply. They clearly don’t deserve to be doing brilliantly well, or they would be. Indeed, they pay too many large advances to washed up, coked up fools. But, would we be better off without their influence ? I don’t think so. So best of luck to the new boss of EMI. I’m really rooting for the trickle down that will allow the music I like to carry on much as it always has, not for the portfolios of your shareholders. But if EMI can’t keep the selling of CDs going, then I’m worried that no-one will be able to. We’ll be left completely at the mercy of Apple and its all conquering I-pod., a worrying thought.

Also In Condemned to Rock 'n' Roll

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