EMI Music Publishing

EMI Music Publishing Ltd. is a multinational music publishing company headquartered in London, United Kingdom.

EMI Music Publishing Ltd.
IndustryMusic entertainment
Fateacquired by Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Founded1974 (1974) in London, United Kingdom
Area served
ServicesMusic publishing
OwnerSony Corporation of America[1][2]

In May 2018, Sony/ATV agreed to increase its stake in EMI to 90 percent, pending regulatory approval. The estate of Michael Jackson will continue to own 10 percent of the publisher.[3] In July 2018, Sony bought out the Michael Jackson estate's stake in EMI for $287.5 million. Sony has agreed to pay $2.3 billion to acquire EMI, as well as assume EMI’s debt of $1.359 billion. With Sony and Jackson’s share valued at $1.091 billion that gives EMI Music Publishing a valuation of $4.75 billion.[4] On October 26, 2018, the European Commission approved of Sony's acquisition of EMI.[5] In November 2018, Sony/ATV completed its acquisition of EMI, which was completely merged into Sony/ATV. EMI currently exists for the artists that it signed pre-2012.[6]

EMI Music Publishing controls over 2 million songs; including classic songs by Queen, Carole King and the Motown catalog, along with contemporary releases by Kanye West, Blink 182, Drake, Sia, P!nk, Pharrell Williams, and Calvin Harris. EMI also owns the recorded catalogue of Philles Records, with distribution handled by Sony's Legacy Recordings.



The origins of EMI Music Publishing date back to the EMI Group's entry into music publishing in 1958 through the formation of Ardmore and Beechwood.[7] In 1969, EMI greatly expanded its presence in music publishing through the acquisition of Keith Prowse Music for US$1.2 million in cash and 70,000 ordinary stock units.[7] In 1973, EMI acquired Francis, Day & Hunter Ltd. In 1973, EMI acquired Affiliated Music Publishers for US$8.75 million.[7] In 1974, EMI renamed its music publishing division as EMI Music Publishing.[8] In 1976, EMI Music Publishing acquired the Screen Gems and Colgems music libraries from Columbia Pictures, making it a major publisher of film music.[8] In 1981, EMI acquired SBK Entertainment, which included the MGM musical catalog.[9] In May 2011, EMI Music Publishing began bundling performance rights previously represented by ASCAP with mechanical and synchronization rights.[10]

LBO by Terra Firma in 2007

In 2007, EMI agreed to be purchased by Terra Firma, a UK-based private equity, beating out Warner and others. The deal value was about $6.5 billion, including $4.7 billion for the shares listed in the London stock exchange, and about $2 billion of debt. The deal represented a very high multiple of EBITDA, meaning it added large debt to EMI.

After defaulting on its debt, Citigroup took over in early 2011 and weeks later announced that EMI would be split and sold off separately (music recording from the one hand, publishing on the other).

Acquisition by Sony and others in 2012

In November 2011, a consortium led by Sony agreed to acquire EMI Music Publishing from Citigroup, the owners of the EMI Group, for US$2.2 billion.[11][12] (EMI Records was sold separately.) The acquisition was approved by the European Commission in April 2012,[13] conditional upon the divestiture of the worldwide publishing rights to four catalogues - Famous Music UK, Virgin Europe, Virgin Music Publishing UK and Virgin US - and the musical works of 12 contemporary authors, including Bullet For My Valentine, Gary Barlow, Ben Harper, the Kooks, Lenny Kravitz, Ozzy Osbourne, Placebo (Famous Music), and Robbie Williams. Those catalogues, collectively known as "Rosetta", were acquired by BMG Rights Management in December 2012; the deal was finalized in May 2013.[14][15] The acquisition was completed in June 2012 following receipt of necessary approvals from anti-trust regulators in the United States.[16][17]

Sony, through its Sony/ATV Music Publishing unit, acquired about 30% of EMI Publishing. Still, it won the administration of the entire catalog, making Sony/ATV the largest music publishing administrator in the world. Other owners of EMI Publishing include Abu Dhabi wealth fund Mubadala, the Michael Jackson Estate, financial institutions, and billionaire David Geffen.

Other developments

Jho Low, owner of Jynwel Capital, was charged by the US government in civil proceedings as part of the 1Malaysia Development Berhard (1MDB) scandal. The government attempted to seize Jynwel's stake in EMI Music [18], claiming it used illicit funds.

In July 2017, media reported that EMI Music was put up for sale.[19]

In March 2018, Mubadala Investment Co., an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund who was one of the buyers of EMI Publishing in 2012, has held talks with Sony and approached other possible buyers to sell its entire stake, according to the media. Mubadala is reportedly seeking a valuation of at least $4 billion, almost twice what the Sony-led group paid six years before. [20] The process cannot formally start before end June 2018. EMI Publishing reportedly owns more than 2.1 million songs.

In August 2018, the Independent Music Companies Association (IMPALA) filed a complaint to the European Commission, asking them to block Sony/ATV's full acquisition of EMI.[21] Warner Music Group and BMG Rights Management, which both acquired parts of EMI and its publisher in 2013, have also objected to the acquisition.

In October 2018, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors also objected to the buyout.[22] Sony declined to offer any concessions to the European Commission, which will decide whether it will launch a full-scale investigation into the deal on October 26.[23]


As of May 2018, EMI Music Publishing included the publishing rights to over 2.1 million songs. Its day-to-day operations, including the administration of songs, are delegated to Sony/ATV Music Publishing.[1]


EMI Music Publishing was named Publisher of the Year by Music Week every year for over 10 years; in 2009, EMI tied with Universal Music Publishing for the award.[24]


  1. California Central District Court Case No. 2:16-cv-05364 page 101, line 13 (Case 2:16-cv-05364 Archived 1 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine page 6, line 27).
  2. Form 20-F for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017 Archived 2 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine (pages 48 and F-27), Sony Corporation
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 May 2018. Retrieved 22 May 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. lars.brandle (31 July 2018). "Sony Completes Acquisition of Michael Jackson Estate's Share of EMI Music Publishing". Billboard. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 October 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. marc.schneider (14 November 2018). "Sony Completes Acquisition Of EMI Music Publishing Despite Indie Objections". Billboard. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  7. "150,000 titles in world music publishing". Billboard. 1 September 1973. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  8. "A Brief History of EMI: 1970-1979". The EMI Group Archive Trust. Archived from the original on 23 September 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  9. Pareles, Jon (6 January 1989). "Thorn-EMI Gets SBK for $337 Million". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  10. "EMI Music Publishing Taking Over Licensing Digital Rights From ASCAP". The Hollywood Reporter. 4 May 2011. Archived from the original on 5 June 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  11. "EMI Is Sold for $4.1 Billion in Combined Deals, Consolidating the Music Industry". The New York Times. 11 November 2011. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  12. "EMI Group sold as two separate pieces to Universal Music and Sony". The Los Angeles Times. 12 November 2011. Archived from the original on 16 May 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  13. Joshua R. Wueller, Mergers of Majors: Applying the Failing Firm Doctrine in the Recorded Music Industry, 7 Brook. J. Corp. Fin. & Com. L. 589, 602 (2013).
  14. "Sony-Led Acquisition of EMI Music Publishing Approved by EU". Billboard. 19 April 2012. Archived from the original on 9 May 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  15. "Approval Is Seen for Sony's Takeover of EMI Publishing". The New York Times. 18 April 2012. Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  16. "BMG Buys Virgin, Famous Music Catalog From Sony/ATV". The Hollywood Reporter. 21 December 2012. Archived from the original on 30 December 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  17. "Sony-Led Group Closes Purchase of EMI Music Publishing". Billboard. 29 June 2012. Archived from the original on 9 May 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  18. "U.S. Government's Seizure of Music Publishing Assets Draws Malaysian Financier's Family". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 6 December 2017. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  19. Halperin, Shirley; Halperin, Shirley (11 July 2017). "As EMI Music Publishing Comes Up for Sale (Again), Investors Welcome 'a Big Check'". Variety. Archived from the original on 22 January 2018. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  20. "EMI Music Publishing for sale at $4bn+, Sony has already held talks - report". Music Business Worldwide. 9 March 2018. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  21. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 August 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 October 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. Williams, Paul (18 April 2009). "Too close to call in publishing battle". Music Week. Archived from the original on 17 January 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2010.

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