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Acquisition Ex-Machina

  • Written by Russell Miller
  • Published in OP-ED Columnist

century media label acquisitionWeeks ago, indie Hard Rock and Metal label Century Media (Devin Townsend, In This Moment, Arch Enemy) had become the latest acquisition of major recording label, Sony BMG.

Nearly 90% of the music you hear somehow has ties to the big three labels Sony, Warner Music Group, and Universal/EMI.

When one of the three makes a major move to carve out a larger slice of the pie, the others are quick to grab knives and follow suite. According to an article posted on Metalinjection.net, Century Media was Sony’s consolation prize and oh what a prize indeed. With Sony snatching Century Media up the music group solidified a delicious 33.6% share of the album market. …now that’s a lesson on buying your cake and eating it too.

Undoubtedly news of the deal stoked the rebellious anti-corporate flame of every rambunctious and angst-ridden metalhead to survive a mosh pit, but such fears are merited right? Billboard reported that while “Sony paid about $20 million for the company”, Century retained its publishing assets and founder Robert Kampf would stay on and head Sony’s new subsidiary.

century media russel miller2While all of this looks to be a positive set of revelations, it is also a playbook maneuver that has been seen before by many. Years ago Roadrunner Records (Slipknot, NicklebackOpeth) found itself in a similar situation. The label soon saw their head honcho Cees Wessels step down, their international offices shut down and various other execs were either pushed out or left by themselves. This barrage of layoffs left Roadrunner a shell off what it was when it rose to stardom in the 90‘s and provides insight into Century’s future and the future of other labels that may meet a similar fate.

An insatiable appetite for profit that has been eating away the music industry for decades on end, takes yet another bite out of the indie pie. Century Media and its subsidiaries reportedly generate around 10 to 12 million dollars in revenue and have built up a devoted hard rock and extreme metal following. Whether or not Century goes the Roadrunner route is as up in the air as it is feared to certainly happen. One thing is certain, however, there is still some juice to squeeze out of the lemon that the industry has become.