Music 2.0 - Exploring Chaos in Digital Music

August 4, 2008

EMI Retreats from Greater China - and Asia

Filed under: Music Industry — maths @ 8:00 pm

The sun rapidly sets on the EMI empire as the guy at the top hands over entire Middle Kingdom in Typhoon deal.


EMI has sold off their Greater China operations and though we don’t have the full details, it has also divested its interests in Japan too, and as seems likely they have now almost fully retreated from Asia.

Yesterday in London, EMI Music’s President and COO Chris Roling agreed to sell all existing shares they own in Greater China including those of EMI Taiwan, Shanghai Bu Sheng (Typhoon) music and Hong Kong’s Gold Label Entertainment to existing Greater China JV partner Typhoon Group. With this agreement, Typhoon will not only take over all of EMI’s existing artist contracts for the Great China region, but will also serve as the exclusive physical and non-exclusive (update) digital products distributor for EMI’s international repertoire. EMI’s Chinese artists switching over to Typhoon include Jolin Tsai, Ah-mei and David Tao.

The acquisition is reported to be in the 9 figures in HK currency with EMI only retaining the right to distribute Typhoon’s recording repertoire overseas. EMI’s publishing arm which it values much more greatly than its recording assets still remains under its control, though there is every possibility that it might likewise be willing to let it go at the right price.

So as first highlighted here in Music 2.0 and OneTwo Music, EMI is abandoning various markets in Asia in rapid succession - and as the vestiges of a former powerhouse in the music industry mirror the decline of the British empire, it is fitting that just as the latter left behind a lasting cultural legacy, EMI’s final calling card has been that of Coldplay, probably the most downloaded English album in the last few months in Asia while EMI probably had little revenue to show for it. So it would be no wonder that they couldn’t wait to unload their baggage for some quick cash.

Roling stated,

We are very pleased to sign this contract with Mr. Norman Cheng, President of EMI Asia as he is one of the successful pioneers of the Asian record industry. The Chinese music market is very exciting with long term growth potential, particularly in the digital music sector but it is still challenging with regards to financial and other aspects, such as the rampant piracy problem.(translated from Chinese media reports)

Norman Cheng, who has been running EMI China, already owned 50 percent of the shares in EMI China and Hong Kong, and with this move, his Typhoon Group takes over full control.
Cheng added,

I am pleased to announce this news for Typhoon, as it is a great opportunity for us for the entire Greater China. We have a very good model of cooperation as the Chinese artists under Typhoon have developed in a familiar environment, while (at the same time) these artists can also enter the international market through EMI. The international music industry is indeed facing challenges, but with the increase in the number of consumers, the channels for music products have reached unprecedented numbers in many markets, and particularly in mainland China there will be excellent business opportunities.

Cheng said that the new company will transform the business into digital music as

the fact is we all know that the physical record business is in a slump. Although physical sales are declining, there are now more ways in which consumers can listen to music and it is diversified. Computers, MP3 players, mobile phones - different platforms, so that music can truly exist “everywhere” and that’s why I believe the potential is great.

With this acquisition, the Typhoon group edges a step closer to its aim of being an entertainment powerhouse with a focus beyond just music.

For music afficionados, it might be sad to see a historied marquee brand like EMI abandon a whole continent and run with the money, but in keeping with the cut-throat nature of the business, Typhoon and its management had already soiled the EMI name previously with a deal with the devil in the form of rogue search engine, Baidu.


  1. Original Image courtesy of Time


  1. (I just discovered this great blog, so that’s why the comment is a little late)
    One down, three more to go. Why is this not surprising at all? Especially as the majors have done f*ck-all in China in developing any talent at all. And EMI barely did anything to promote its Western artists in China also.
    A very fitting picture you have used as it shows that the major labels empires are decaying.

    Comment by John Doe — November 3, 2008 @ 5:25 pm

  2. […] Update 4 Aug 2008: EMI Retreats from Greater China - and Asia […]

    Pingback by Music 2.0 - Exploring Chaos in Digital Music » EMI Closing Asian Offices - Major Labels’ Global Foibles Exposed — December 29, 2008 @ 12:29 pm

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