updated 07:55 am EST, Fri November 11, 2011
EMI publishing, music to be sold off separately
(Update: confirmed) Citigroup is splitting EMI in two for a sale that's about to be imminent, according to claims Friday. Pointing to sources, the Wall Street Journal's Dana Cimilluca said that the publishing wing, EMI Music Publishing, would be sold off to a Sony consortium for $2.2 billion. The pure music label would go to Universal for $1.9 billion.
Both deals would be unveiled as soon as Friday, but the weekend was deemed more likely by the claimed insiders.
EMI had already been rumored to be selling itself off with yet another label, Warner Music, deemed in the running. Of the four major labels, EMI has been in the most difficult financial position with significant debt and darker prospects.
The deals, if accurate, have yet to be confirmed.
Should the deals be made public, they could have significant repercussions for digital music deals. EMI has often been the first to experiment with new business models and was the first to offer unprotected songs on major, pay-per-track stores like iTunes. Being subsumed into more conservative labels would quash this and could be the most damaging to Google, which was rumored to be landing EMI for a Google music store.
EMI is also often key to deals for classic artists like The Beatles and Pink Floyd, and while existing agreements are unlikely to change immediately, the new owners could significantly change the relationships between artists and labels in the future.
Update: All involved sides have confirmed the deals. Sony is now known to be running EMI's unit as part of its own publishing business, which includes the rights to The Beatles; the move might simplify licensing the band's music by putting more of the licensing under one group.