AIM Continues To Apply Pressure To The Office of Fair Trading
The Association of Independent Music (AIM), a trade organization representing UK independent labels, has officially responded to a request for information from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) regarding what they believe to be Universal Music’s slow dominance of the English recorded music market.
Citing Universalâ€™s recent acquisition of two of the UKâ€™s largest independents, V2 and Sanctuary Records, AIM claims that Universal’s expansion will damage the UK independent sector, by limiting competition and reducing consumer choice.
The submission, which was made as part of the OFTâ€™s inquiry into Universalâ€™s V2 acquisition, comes in the wake of years of continued market concentration, which has seen the independentsâ€™ share of retail decline from 40% in the late 80â€™s to half that value today.
It highlights Universalâ€™s frequent command of in excess of 40% of the weekly top 75 – where the real market power is illustrated, as it reflects key airplay and retail presence. AIM asserts that this results in restricted access to market for smaller companies, including the tying up of radio play and music TV slots, retail space, online visibility, TV, radio and print advertising makes. AIM believes it is harder than ever for independents to compete and enables consumers to see and hear less music through these key channels.
The pattern of “creeping dominance” is replicated across Europe, where Belgian independent ARS Entertainment, Spainâ€™s Vale Music and Swedenâ€™s Lionheart E Group were all recently acquired by Universal. AIM asserted that music cannot continue to be treated like a commodity. Like the film, television, radio and book industries â€“ which, over the years, have received special support and measures in one way or another to protect diversity and independent UK production – AIM now believe the government should examine the relentless consolidation in the record industry, to achieve fair market access, so that competition is preserved and UK investment into creativity is rewarded.