Independent music titan [PIAS] has 49% stake acquired by Universal
Founders Kenny Gates and Michel Lambo have kept majority control over the company, which distributes and services over 100 different independent labels
Universal Music Group (UMG) has purchased a 49% stake in independent music company [PIAS].
Founders Kenny Gates and Michel Lambot keep majority control and operational independence with UMG – the world’s largest music rights company – having no seats on the company’s board, according to Music Business Worldwide.
Speaking about the acquisition deal, Chairman & CEO of UMG, Sir Lucian Grange said in a statement: “The boldly independent and music-centric culture that Kenny and Michel have built over the last four decades has provided a vital creative network to so many artists.
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“While much of the past was focused on ‘majors versus indies’, it’s clear that today, the important divide in our industry is about those committed to artist development versus those committed to quantity over quality,” he continued.
[PIAS], known verbally as Play It Again Sam, was founded in 1983 and has over 300 employees. It runs its own labels under the [PIAS] Label Group, which includes [PIAS] Recordings and Different Recordings.
It also has its own distribution and services division, which is partnered with over 100 of the world’s most influential independent record labels, including Warp Records, XL Recordings, Transgressive Records, Domino Records and Ninja Tune.
Co-founder Gates said: “These days we are competing with finance and tech giants, and a partner like Universal Music Group provides the additional support for us to compete and grow.
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“Universal made it clear that they like us, they trust us and they need us, because they can’t do what we do and they value it highly,” he continued.
“For Michel and I this is our life’s work and an ongoing journey and I am excited about the prospect of this new chapter in the life of [PIAS]. This move makes us stronger and secures the future of our brand, our staff and our partners while maintaining control of our destiny.”
With one of the world's largest representatives of independent music labels being part-purchased by the largest record label in the world, not everyone has been best pleased by the news. In replying to Jacques Greene, producer nautiluss tweeted: "definitely a big deal, and not a positive one imo.
"Can't wait for one [sic] giant monolith umg-sony-warner super label and then a black hole will open up and the whole thing will look like that final scene from interstellar and we will see the essence of space and time but more likely it’ll be like the end of High Life," a separate post from him continued.
cant wait for a one giant monolithic umg-sony-warner super label and then maybe a black hole will open up and the whole thing will look like that final scene from interstellar and we will see the essence of space and time but more likely it’ll be like the end of High Life— nautiluss (@nautiluss) December 5, 2022
The acquisition comes after the two companies announced a “global strategic alliance” in June 2021. At the time, Gates said: “This new, somewhat unconventional, strategic arrangement with UMG will help both companies maximise the many opportunities we know are available, while not compromising our independence whatsoever.”
Isaac Muk is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter