Some City experts wonder whether he is making a big mistake and this is just a deal too far. But Warner bowed out yesterday while a slightly quirky proposal from former EMI executive Jim Fifield, branded Lucky for the size of the payout he took when he quit the company some years ago, was also dropped. EMI embraced the mood swings, from early music hall to the brass bands of the 1930s and the great classical artists such as violinist Yehudi Menuhin and Maria Callas to the post-war era of crooners like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, and on to the Sixties, where it signed the Beatles in 1962.
It later proved surprisingly nimble in picking up some of the seo service emerging labels of the time, such as Chrysalis and Virgin, and meeting the growing challenge of independent record companies that were able to quickly spot a new sound. The transition from vinyl to CD was also accomplished smoothly, triggering a boom in sales as customers replaced their records. But EMI, like other big record groups, had no answer to piracy as more people copied CDs from friends and began by-passing the traditional record shop and downloading music at home.
EMI and other record companies fought against piracy and downloading, finally embracing the medium by allowing people to download music directly for a fee. But the damage was done and legal downloading has shown no sign of fully compensating for the dramatic fall in CD sales. In the first half of this year, CD sales in the UK fell 10 per cent. In the US it is far worse.
Legal downloads have increased but the income has gone nowhere near to making up for the shortfall in physical sales. Music sales worldwide are expected to fall 11 per cent this year making it the worst year for more than a quarter of a century.