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Hard days at EMI

EMI Records office in London

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

SCOTT JAGOW: One of the world's biggest record labels gave some bad news today to shareholders and to a couple of people running the company. EMI is renowned for signing the Beatles in 1962. These days, it trots out artists like Coldplay. Our European correspondent Stephen Beard joins us from London. Stephen, are things as bad as they sound for EMI?

STEPHEN BEARD: Yes it sounds pretty dire, not much harmony at EMI headquarters at the moment. Rather the sound of wailing and gnashing of teeth. The share price has plunged around 10 percent. This after the company had said revenues are going to fall by 10 percent this year. Jobs are going, starting at the top for a change. The company's chief executive and vice chairman are both quitting.

JAGOW: What's going wrong to cause all this?

BEARD: Well the problem seems to be the same problem that afflicting many of the big players in the music industry: Piracy is eating into their profits and they're simply not making up the shortfall by getting into Internet sales themselves because people are ripping off their material.

JAGOW: So EMI's dumping a couple of executives. Did the company say what else it might do to start turning things around?

BEARD: Well it's talked about, 'in the face of this challenging trading environment, we've got to reduce overheads' but they haven't specified how many jobs will go. We could be talking thousands.

JAGOW: Now Stephen, this is one of those iconic companies, they signed The Beatles back in the '60s, and I heard that your father worked for EMI.

BEARD: Yes he did. Not on the record side, he was a building manager. It was interesting, he hated The Beatles, he absolutely loathed them. Like a lot of people of his generation, he thought The Beatles were the beginning of the end of Western civilization. But I used to say to him, "Dad, they're paying your wages!" and certainly even he would probably concede now that The Beatles were really the high point of EMI's history as a music company.

JAGOW: You like The Beatles?

BEARD: I love The Beatles.

JAGOW: Why don't we play something then.

BEARD: Great.

[ Music: "Help! I need somebody . . . Help! Not just anybody . . . Help! You know I need someone . . ." ]

JAGOW: In Los Angeles, I'm Scott Jagow. Thanks for joining us and have a great day.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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