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MORE INTERESTING THAN MOST PEOPLE’S FANTASIES — THE SWINGING EIGHTIES 1978-1984They didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did.
“I’d find people at the Blitz who were possible only in my imagination. But they were real” — Stephen Jones, hatmaker, 1983. (Illustration courtesy Iain R Webb, 1983)
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Tag Archives: EMI
❚ AN INTERNAL STAFF MEMO from EMI chief executive Roger Faxon confirms that the historic record label of the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Queen is up for sale. Last Tuesday ownership of EMI, Britain’s oldest record company, passed to Citigroup, the US banking giant, after 114 years of British ownership. The takeover ended speculation that has marred the label’s future ever since 2007 when Guy Hands and his Terra Firma private equity firm bought the British music major for £4.2bn, widely believed to be a massive overpayment. Terra Firma was unable to keep up interest payments on the loans.
In the note sent to music staff last Tuesday, and published today by Guardian online, Faxon confirmed that “there is no doubt that in due course EMI will be up for sale – just like it has been from the day Terra Firma bought it.” But he emphasised: “Regardless of the country of origin of our owner, EMI remains a British company – both legally and spiritually.” Faxon insists that “EMI itself was never in administration”.
“The takeover in 2007 of EMI by Guy Hands’s Terra Firma — just as the bubble in financial markets was going pop — will go down in British corporate history as one of the worst ever deals”
— Robert Peston, Business editor, BBC News
Further analysis in today’s Guardian by Dan Sabbagh, head of media, is headlined: Is the music company going to go for a song? He writes: “Hands’s instincts at EMI often failed to serve him and the business well. Three-and-a-half years later, after an overambitious acquisition that left the company unable to handle £3bn of debt Hands had taken on, the barbarian at the gates was forced out by his bankers Citigroup.
“Now that Citigroup has written off £2.2bn of loans, EMI, with a manageable £1.2bn debt load, is likely to be sold within months. Out of politeness, Citigroup sources prefer to say predictably that the process is ‘not a fire sale’ and that it is possible – if unlikely – that it will be theirs in a year’s time. The rhetoric is only there to protect the bank in case something goes awry again with a company that counts Katy Perry, Swedish House Mafia and Tinie Tempah among its latter-day artists.”
Warners and BMG are tipped as potential purchasers of EMI.
Formed in 1931, EMI is Britain’s oldest record company and the fourth-largest business group in the industry. Its future looks uncertain, after losing many key acts, the latest to defect being Queen. Talking to Pete Paphides in today’s Times, leading music industry talents describe how to rescue the once-mighty label. Here’s a taste …
❚ WHAT DO PEOPLE TALK ABOUT when they talk about EMI these days? According to Alan McGee, the sometime supremo of Creation Records: “They talk about debt, covenants and pension funds. What they never seem to talk about is the music. That’s the problem at the moment.”
And the solution? For a label that arouses the same feelings in music fans that Cadbury arouses in chocoholics, the worrying answer is that it may be too late for one. Even by the beleaguered imprint’s own recent standards, May was an extraordinary month. With Radiohead, the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney long gone, one of EMI’s last remaining “legacy” brands, Queen — or what remains of them — decided to take their business elsewhere.
Admittedly, the label that Guy Hands’s private equity firm Terra Firma bought for far too much money [reportedly £2.4bn, $3.5bn] in 2007 managed to secure another £105 million from his backers … What sent morale into freefall, however, were Hands’s press utterances, which seemed to single out the number of artists signed to the label as the source of its inefficiency. “One of the issues we will be addressing is the sheer size of our roster,” Hands said …
[Marc Marot, former managing director at Island Records, today head of a management company helping emerging acts] – “It’s crazy that EMI should not be top of my shopping list. But the fact is that there’s no sense that this is a label with an A&R strategy. The idea that you only sign the acts that are sure to succeed is naive.”
“You need a maverick quality to run a label,” says Mike Batt, whose Dramatico imprint is currently home to Katie Melua, Carla Bruni and Marianne Faithfull. “You know you’ll lose on some acts, but it doesn’t matter as long as you have enough to gain with.”
“These days,” McGee says, “you identify [EMI] with a guy who runs a f***ing hedge fund [sic]. It could find another Beatles and it wouldn’t make any difference because it wouldn’t want to sign to them.” Asked if he could turn the label around, the man who discovered Oasis says: “Pretty f***ing easily.”
➢➢ Can EMI pick up the pieces?
– Read Pete Paphides in full in The Times, June 2, 2010