Labels wary of Sirius/XM merger?

Satellite merger?A great many bluegrass fans have embraced satellite radio. In addition to each having nearly 200 channels offering a wide variety of news, music and sports, both XM and Sirius have 24/7 bluegrass music channels produced in house.

With the US Department of Justice’s approval of the proposed merger between the two satellite radio giants being announced a month ago, subscribers and music industry observers have had much to say, pro and con, about the impact such a merger might have on this relatively new medium.

Billboard and Reuters had a joint piece last week looking at how record labels view this merger, and their fears that it could eventually lead to the sort of consolidation that would eliminate any duplication of services. Though both companies insist that their goal is to maintain separate subscription services, allowing a la carte selections from the other side of the aisle, the label reps quoted in the April 20 piece by Ken Tucker don’t cherish the thought of loosing any possible exposure via satellite radio.

Brad Paul, senior VP of promotion at Rounder Records — a label whose bluegrass releases benefit from the 24/7 national exposure they get from Sirius and XM — doesn’t like the idea of one less national outlet. “If the argument were being made that it’s a good thing because I could economize my effort, heck, I’m not about economizing my efforts, I’m about having opportunities to get these artists’ music exposed to as many listeners as possible.

“Both networks offer different ways to feature and launch a new project,” Paul says. “I feel good about having both those options to go to.”

Tucker also passes along the feeling expressed by several reps that satellite radio had been responsible for breaking new artists, though none presented any concrete examples. There was some disagreement expressed, but overall, the quotes in the piece look askance at the merger.

But Kevin Herring, VP of promotion for Nashville-based Lyric Street Records, says losing XM’s Highway 16 channel or Sirius’ New Country channel wouldn’t have much of an effect on his label’s promotion efforts. “Anytime there’s less current outlets, it affects us, but I don’t see it having an overarching effect on what we do or how we do it,” he says.

Sony BMG Nashville VP of marketing Tom Baldrica says his label group has long supported both satellite services and is also not pleased with the possibility of consolidation. “One of those stations goes and it’s like losing a major-market radio station,” he says. “And it’s a major-market radio station that’s speaking to the people that value and love the music more than most. I’m not happy about that at all.”

Read the full piece online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.