Oh this week's news is just the perfect way to bring out my cynical side: EMI is to "merge" with Warner Music. "Merge" in this case is a very subjective term, the enlarged operation would be a 50/50 joint venture "pooling" their recording and music publishing businesses, but Warner is going to have all the control.... The new operation would then, in a stunning imaginative move, be called "Warner EMI".

Just to get the stock market and other sources of funny money excited, the two say they'll be creating "the world's largest music group" (haven't I heard that someplace before?), and that the new company will be valued at as much as $19 billion (yes "billion" not "million"!). Sounds like an impressive value, but don't forget it also includes AOL which Time Warner is in the process of taking over as well.

So what's going on here? Is Warner trying to take over the world as part of some demented Orwellian wet-dream? Far from it, it's all about sucking up to the stock market. Stick Warner and EMI together and you can say you've a huge back catalogue of music to sell by digital direct delivery, which AOL can deliver. All the ignorant stock market people have all their favourite buzz-words in the same sentence, and the management can cash in their stock options and retire as fat cats, with the stock market continuing to threw money at them hand over fist. I'd go so far as to say the whole deal is all about making EMI's management rich, rather than anything to do with music! Reminds me of the old phrase about "throwing good money after bad".....

Some of the reaction to news of the deal over here has been interesting. Plenty of them seem to want to eulogize over the "the last great British label surrendering to the forces of nature". In what has to be a pathetically nave piece of jingoism, some were even bemoaning the fact that it might be the end of record labels having that little image of "nipper" the dog singing into a gramophone trumpet! Shows how long it's been since they've bought some music..., I can't think of many EMI releases that still use the "His Master's Voice" imprint, can you? All EMI's shareholders are falling over themselves to praise the deal - mainly because their going to get 1 for each of their shares just for passing control to Warner. Warner is also running about talking about how the internet breaches security in the modern world because rumours of the deal were rife on bulletin boards before it was announced. Sounds like a company that hasn't quite grasped that we're in the second millennium: nothing is really, truly secret, and EMI is bound to have leaked the deal to get their share price up some more..... As they say in All the President's Men, "follow the money"....

But you know what isn't being mentioned by anyone in context of the deal? Take a wild guess...., that little thing that it all starts from: MUSIC. Nobody at either company has mentioned what it does for their current, future or past rosters - all they're talking about is market capitalization and another bombastic buzz word that means very little, "synergies"!

Both labels had pretty much lost sight of the "music" in "the music industry" a while back, and now it's going to be even worse. We're getting very close to a situation where two or three music groups are going to control something like 90% of the music market, small labels and specialist interests are going to get pushed further and further into the background. Maybe this is what all the talk of doom in the new millennium was all about.....