Wednesday, January 09, 2008

EMI: who's driving?

It's not really surprising that Tony Wadsworth, the CEO of EMI Music in the UK, has decided that he can't get on with the new owners Terra Firma and has left. When people pay a fortune for companies they tend to quickly come to the conclusion that they're more likely to get their way if they part company with the incumbent management. It's a shame for Tony, who is an excellent bloke and a record man to his fingertips, but it could be that they don't want a record man any more. They can see that the old way of doing things is not going to make back the £2.1bn Terra Firma paid and bring them a profit on top. This is the kind of dynamic that you see again and again when somebody buys an old business and tries to wish a new model into life. It's no use expecting the current engineer to do things in a different way. But the problem is without an engineer they haven't a clue which levers to pull. Everybody knows that the old way of doing the record business is dead. But the new way has not yet been born.


  1. As a magazine guru, I'd like to know your thoughts on the Bauer takeover of Emap, David.

  2. It seems to me that the record industry wheels have turned full circle to the point of being almost back where they were pre-Elvis, and shortly after pre-Beatles. With the internet replacing the role of the specialist order/import service. (US Imports in the Bill Hayley era - NEMS in The Beatles)

    Contemporary Joe Meeks, Larry Parnes and ‘Tin Pan Alley’ types are back at the top of the current musical curve, packaging and pulling the strings of pop puppets and pretenders while serving the musical equivalent of McDonalds meals, leaving real music and musicians seemingly viewed as quaint eccentrics in a cottage industry.

    As these things changed before, I’m convinced it will happen again – the vinyl revival seems to be under way, the wheel must be due for another turn soon.

  3. Looks like we'll never know, then.

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  5. Re: Bauer.
    I don't know. All I do know is that two or more companies, given the same information, will look at the world very differently, according to their corporate genes.
    Time will tell.