Will The Big Five Recording Companies Become The Big Three?

The recording industry is talking merger again. In this shrinking market, the savings that might be squeezed from a merger offer a lifeline. In the past, European regulators have been an obstacle, repeatedly blocking mergers among the big five record companies—Vivendi’s Universal Music, Sony Music, EMI, AOL Time Warner’s Warner Music, and Bertelsmann’s BMG—which between them control 70% of the global recorded-music market. In 2000, they blocked a merger of Warner and EMI by imposing heavy divestment conditions. They stopped EMI marrying BMG even before a formal proposal was tabled.” But with the industry’s current woes, the merger proposition might get a more sympathetic hearing.