As Terra Firma's new broom continues sweeping clean at EMI - with restructuring, job cuts and savings on those lavish artist luxuries - it's clear the new leadership is thinking more radically. For one, it's tapping former Coca-Cola strategic alliances head Rafael McDonnell, who launched the now mothballed Mycokemusic.com download store, to the new role of brand partnerships VP (via Guardian.co.uk). After reporting 37 better digital revenue of 102 million and swinging massively in to the black with 59 million pre-tax earnings between April and September, EMI granted Billboard a sit-down with its top brass: CEO Elio Leoni-Sceti; A&R president Nick Gatfield and digital president Douglas Merrill (pictured)
-- MP3 doesn't hurt piracy: EMI was the first major to try dropping DRM, heralding the "iTunes Plus" repertoire, but Merrill said: "We didn't see the needle move at all on [piracy]. The pirates are doing a busy business regardless. The best way to get a pirated copy probably isn't to buy it from iTunes and then push it. But what we did see is consumers loved the product. It was good for consumers, it's good for artists. It gets people engaged with the art in a whole new way by getting rid of artificial rules-like we don't trust you, so I'm not going to give you this content."
-- Focus not on sales: In a way, EMI is sounding less and less like a traditional record company and, under Merrill's steam, is fixed on creating relationships through online marketing services: "What you'll see is less of a focus on sales of individual tracks or the conceptual equivalent of little round shiny disks, and more about helping artists learn things about their fan group that they can't directly see ... The value of a label going forward is to be the platform to connect artists and fans and teach each more about the other."
-- Regaining innovation: Merrill wants to reclaim that mantel from Apple: "This industry has always relied on somebody else to innovate in the way that this content is delivered to music fans. Somebody has to invent the iPod, somebody has to invent the music experience and the various incarnations of this music experience. So we have been great at providing the content, but somebody else had to take this content and deliver it in your way. We want to regain ownership of the innovation that goes with our product delivery."
By Robert Andrews