Universal & Sony To Buy EMI Records For $4.1 Billion

As the major labels consolidate further and further, how does it affect the music fan?

Johnny Firecloudby Johnny Firecloud

EMI Group Ltd., the 114 year-old home to smash names such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Coldplay, is being sold in two parts for $4.1 billion, according to Billboard.

Universal Music Group announced on Friday morning that it will buy the recording division of EMI for $1.9 billion, while Sony/ATV has reached a deal to buy the second part, the publishing division (which handles songwriting copyrights), for $2.2 billion. The deal leaves Citigroup, EMI's owner, reportedly with liability for a pension plan worth about $600 million.

"For me, as an Englishman, EMI was the pre-eminent music company that I grew up with," said Universal CEO Lucian Grainge, in a statement. "UMG is committed to both preserving EMI's cultural heritage and artistic diversity and also investing in its artists and people to grow the company's assets for the future."

The EMI umbrella also includes subsidiary labels like Capitol and Astralwerks, as well as distribution deals with DFA and Mute. Citigroup had put the iconic British music company up for sale after foreclosing on private equity firm Terra Firma in February, after buying EMI in 2007 in a $6.8 billion acquisition.

A firestorm of antitrust regulatory scrutiny is expected from the deal because Universal Music, a unit of Vivendi SA, is already the world's largest music company with about 27 percent of the recorded music market. Adding EMI's approximately 9 percent will give it a clear edge over Sony Corp.'s Sony Music Entertainment, the second largest.

Vivendi said that the London-based EMI would find a safe home, and reassured its talent roster. Universal also released statements from bands in support, including from Coldplay manager Dave Holmes, who said "this can only be a positive for the artists and executives at EMI."