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10 Music Week 28.09.12 THE BIG INTERVIEWGUYMOOT


MOOT POINTS T


PUBLISHING  BY DAVE ROBERTS


here may not have been quite the same fanfare, brouhaha and endless examination of entrails that accompanied Universal’s


acquisition of EMI in the recorded music sector, but don’t underestimate the significance of Sony/ ATV’s acquisition of EMI Music Publishing. And don’t be fooled into thinking it’s simple,


either. For a start, it’s not ‘Sony buys EMI’. It’s a Sony/ATV-led consortium (including David Geffen and Abu Dhabi investment firm Mubadala Development) – and there are still two companies, with distinct financial accounts, even though all songs will be administered by Sony/ATV. EMI will still (for now) be credited in listings,


but ultimately, probably by the start of 2013, its songs will go towards Sony’s market share. There have also been divestments imposed in


order to secure EC approval for the deal. A dozen top Anglo-American songwriters (including Mark Ronson, Eg White, Jason Orange and Howard Donald) plus the Virgin UK/US/Europe and Famous UK catalogues are all being released. Talking off the record to Guy Moot, the


experienced and respected exec who will head up the UK office whilst also having a pan-European creative role, it’s clear that these losses rankle. But he also knows that what’s left is a truly world-class collection of songs and artists – and is excited about what he calls a “one-time opportunity to build the best music publishing company in the world”…


To start with, let’s go back to the start of the turmoil and the Terra Firma/Guy Hands days. There was an awful lot said and written about the affect that had on the label; what was the impact on the publishing division? Our results were very solid, Roger (Faxon) was running the company very competently and I think he also managed to speak their language. Their urgency was with the record company.


They would very often ask our opinion about the label side of things, which was an interesting position to be in. I never had a problem with them. I spent a lot


of time with a lot of different senior execs at Terra Firma and they were very analytical and when it came down to A&R, you could explain it and explain it, but it always got down to that last 10% that is just gut instinct, that bit that can’t be explained, but the bit that is essentially what A&R is. There’s a lot that you can write down in a column, but that bit is intangible, which means the sum doesn’t add up.


For me, I always found Guy Hands to be very


personable I think he was well intentioned and I think he did some great things for the company. Funnily enough, what he should have been good


at, which was paying the right price, was clearly the bit he got badly wrong.


And then what was the impact of the business being turned over to Citigroup? It was pretty dramatic, I have to say. We were called into Roger’s office on a Tuesday afternoon, or whatever, to be told that the company had been repossessed by Citibank. But, again, I’m not trying to make out everything was great, but when you’ve been at EMI, y’know, EMI plc was a rocky road littered with bad numbers: we’re doomed, we’re gonna be sold, all of those things. You get a little battle-hardened, you get used to change.


And you knew more change was around the corner, I guess… Well it was inevitable, they’re a bank, so they’re not going to be running a music company. No one went into that thinking they were going to be around forever, but I quite miss them, they were really nice! They redefined my view on bankers… okay, maybe not completely.


It sounds like you personally rolled with the punches quite easily, but what was the overall internal mood like? Did you have a battle on your hands in terms of morale or motivation? I think the people that work for this company are amazing. Your only capital value in this business is to have hits and do your numbers. It doesn’t matter who you’re owned by, there’s no escaping that fact.


“When you’ve been at EMI, y’know, EMI plc was a rocky road littered with bad numbers: we’re doomed, we’re gonna be sold, all of those things. You get a little battle-hardened, you get used to change” GUY MOOT


And in an industry based on reputation, where success generates business, you have to keep doing that. I’ve got to say, I really didn’t feel that we lost deals because of that uncertainly. I told my team they had to project confidence, that they were good at their jobs and if they kept going, they’d win some. We kept having hits, we kept making signings and we kept making money, that’s all we can do.


Did you not sense any reluctance on the part of artists to sign deals with you during that time? In a couple of countries in Europe maybe, where


Heard the one about the EMI sale that will change the face of the music industry? No, not that one, ‘the other deal’; the Sony/ATV-led acquisition of EMI Music Publishing to create the biggest company in the sector. President UK and European creative Guy Moot discusses the implications


they’re further away from industry chat. Maybe there was more uncertainly there. Plus, I’m not having a go at them, but I’m sure


maybe one or two of our competitors might have enjoyed saying, ‘This is going to happen, that’s going to happen, they’re doomed.’ Obviously they were wrong, and I’m not saying


they were being deliberately nasty, but maybe they were playing on people’s fears, exaggerating the situation, maybe. It happens.


And when Sony ATV emerged as the successful bidder, what was your reaction? On a personal level? Well I was really happy to be back with Marty [Bandier, Sony/ATV chairman and CEO]. He was an important mentor to me.


Just talk a little bit about your history with Marty – and what he’s like to work with? Okay, well we have to go all the way back. I came out of record retailing and my first job was at ATV Music Publishing in Upper Brook Street, which was then sold to Michael Jackson. I only worked there for about a year after that. Then I went to Chrysalis Records for 18 months


or so, and after that I went to SBK. A lot of the people from ATV had gone there, particularly Sally Perryman, who I was still close to, so I went there. At the same time Marty arrived with Stephen


Swid and Charles Koppelman, as they bought CBS Songs, which is another loop round. I remember my first meeting with Marty: I


remember the distinct smell of cigar smoke, I remember the initials on the shirt and I remember him exuding… how shall I say it, it’s not power in that domineering overbearing way, it’s power in an inspiring way. He’s a guy you want to go and win for. And he’s a music guy.


From a more corporate point of view, what did you think of the fit in terms of Sony/ATV and EMI? I don’t mind saying, there were a couple of companies mentioned towards the end, but I very much wanted the Sony/ATV consortium to win this deal. One, there was the personal relationship. Two,


they’re a real music company, with a history, and some of the other contenders… I was concerned with who was going to look after the writers? Who services them properly? Who’s equipped to look after their catalogue? Who understands it? Because you can’t just break a company like this up and sell it to a company that doesn’t know. So I’m very, very happy with the outcome.


Pre-deal how would you have categorised the differences between the two companies?


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