All You Need is Now

Thursday, November 11, 2010

EMI: Endangered Musical Institution



The symbol means the label is no longer used for new releases.

EMI, one of the pillars of the music industry, are in a state of flux. Under corporate parent Terra Firma, they have been slated as being owned by bean counters and losing touch with their artists and the public. This has been reported elsewhere, but since many of my favourite artists have had releases on EMI labels one time or another. Many of the big names have formed a diaspora and have gone indie or moved to Universal. The Rolling Stones and now Queen haved moved albums that they own to UMC. Paul McCartney has taken his solo catalogue off Parlophone and onto Universal affiliate Hear Music/Concord, and we wait for all his solo albums to return to shops. The Beatles remasters may have helped EMI's portfolio some. Radiohead let fans name their own price for 2007's In Rainbows after their contract was done. Pink Floyd left Harvest outside Europe in 1975 for CBS (Sony now) and may have their work with Columbia (Sony in Japan) worldwide, but nothing has been announced yet, though a side project of David Gilmours was (The Orb) is. Many of these elder statesmen have ducked Capitol in the States at one point in time and collectors note the different licences. When I buy something on an EMI label, it's usually used anyway to save money.
Liberty, revived as a label for heritage acts, may now be way on the backburner. Marillion released their 2001 album Anoraknophobia on it. They have also been seen as pariahs by the media, but thats another story.
Scottish neoproggers Fish (formerly of Marillion) and Pallas licence their early albums from EMI onto indie labels. They too have felt betrayed by the conglomorate. Duran Duran also have expressed dissatisfaction with their former home.
EMI used to be the biggest and the best, having survived two world wars and a depression, postwar period, all the way to todays struggling music industry. Could they ever have another golden age? Maybe if they get their act(s) together, they just might.

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