Lucian Grainge has plans to sell assets, invest heavily in A&R, and keep EMI as intact as possible while trying to gain approval for Universal Music Group's proposed acquisition of EMI's recorded music division in both the U.S. and Europe, all while outlining what he calls a collaborative "manifesto for the new music industry," according to the Financial Times.
Universal, which received the European Commission's Statement of Objections to the merger last week, will need to assuage regulators' fears that its market share -- which could reportedly be higher than 50 percent in some markets, and may reach around 40 percent in the U.S. and Europe -- would violate antitrust laws, and would result in an unfair competitive market that would allow the major to dictate prices and handpick digital initiatives, all of which Grainge said Universal is willing to keep an "open mind" to.
"I'm extremely open-minded about working with the [European] Commission in the context of behavioral remedies as well as divestitures," he told the FT.
However, while he is prepared to offer concessions in the form of the selling of assets, Grainge stressed that he would prefer to keep EMI "as intact as possible" in order to make it a viable organization ripe for reinvestment. This, he told the FT, would mostly come in the form of a re-dedication to A&R, which he said suffered enormous cuts while EMI was under the control of Terra Firma, the private equity firm that sold the major label to Citigroup in early 2011. Investment could come across a variety of genres and languages.
Either way, parent company Vivendi has committed to pay Citigroup $1.9 billion by September, whether or not the deal is approved. The EC has set a Sept. 6 deadline to either approve or deny the sale, while Vivendi has seen high profile changes at the top of its management structure, with CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy stepping down and chairman Jean-René Fourtou taking on a more active role in the EMI venture.
Grainge also expanded on his proposed collaborative "manifesto," which he offered as a transparent way to deal with digital innovation fairly and open-mindedly in a music industry that has been severely harmed by piracy and a slow response to change in the past decade, but that has seen encouragement through digital retailers like iTunes and Amazon and streaming services such as Rhapsody and Spotify.
"It could be in five years that the digital landscape has the same choices as the physical landscape had 25 years ago," he said.