Oh, you thought we were talking about the bands? Nope, they’re still intact. However, EMI’s recorded music division has been sold to Vivendi, who owns the Universal Music Group. The $1.9 billion sale of the label group from Citigroup comes ahead of the expected sale of EMI’s more lucrative music publishing division to an investment group led by Sony. This makes Universal, Sony and the Warner Music Group the only remaining major label groups. While the sale of EMI to Universal has been approved by the management board and supervisory board of Vivendi, they still have to get regulatory approval from the countries and continents concerned, so basically the world. Universal Music Group was already the world’s largest music company before the acquisition, so the deal will definitely be scrutinized.
What will ultimately happen to EMI, which includes Virgin and Capitol among its labels and distributes labels including Candlelight, Season of Mist, Earache and Nuclear Blast? While there will undoubtedly be some reshuffling around, Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy said that the labels, artists and employees who have contributed the the label’s success will have “a safe, long-term home.” We’ll see how things shake out, but it’s a much better statement than “we’re going to consolidate the hell out of EMI and lay a lot of people off.” It’s also kind of interesting that UMG’s owners have made such a purchase, considering that they’re at risk of losing lots of money over digital royalties.