Lyor Cohen to rivals: ‘Why can’t we all get along?’

June 20, 2012

Lyor Cohen (right) with hip hop artist Kanye West last year.

Lyor Cohen, Warner Music’s chief executive for recorded music, thinks the long-suffering and depleted music business would do a lot better if it could just stop the bitter in-fighting and back-stabbing particularly among the major label owner rivals Universal Music Group, Sony Music and EMI.

“We should root for one another,” said Cohen speaking at the New Music Seminar in New York earlier this week. “We can all come together and support each other. That’s hugely missing from our business.”

Referring to an industry which hopes it has now hit rock bottom and is finally turning things around:

“It makes it even more difficult when there’s so much friction in the business.”

The problem with Cohen turning all Kumbayah on us is that firstly he has one of the most combative and ruthless reputations in the music business earned over three decades breaking new acts against rivals.

Secondly, and far more significantly, this very week  Warner Music and its lawyers will be on Capitol Hill leading industry opposition to Universal Music’s bid to take control of EMI, the smallest of the four majors.

From Reuters story of June 15:

Three critics of the deal are set to appear. They are: Warner Director Edgar Bronfman, Jr, Beggars Group Chairman Martin Mills and Gigi Sohn, president of the public advocacy group Public Knowledge.

The Federal Trade Commission, which is reviewing the deal to ensure it complies with antitrust law, has asked industry experts about Universal’s power to set prices given widespread music pirating and big retailers like Apple and Amazon , who use cheap music to attract customers.

It is also asking about allegations made by consumer groups and others that Universal has been reluctant to license its enormous catalog of must-have music to digital startups, or has licensed the music only on onerous terms.

Maybe this hearing will go much smoother than anyone thought and they’ll all say nice things about each other. And in fact Universal Music is kinda sticking to Lyor’s philosophy. The world’s biggest music company simply wants to ‘come together and support’ EMI recorded music business. We’re sure Lyor agrees.

(Photo: Reuters)

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