Is Promusicae a monopoly?

Enrique Dans. Professor. IE Business School

16 May 2012

The music industry lobby is suing me for speaking out on behalf of independent music firms, who accuse Promusicae of acting like a monopoly. Are they trying to intimidate me?

Promusicae, the lobbying group for the Spanish music recording industry, is suing me for stating on my personal blog that I am of the opinion that its activity infringes antimonopoly laws, and that it could be manipulating commercial radio in order to block access to anyone who is not a member of their organization.

My opinion is based on claims made by independent music companies that say that they have been unable to get their music played on commercial radio stations. They say that they are not included in RitmoNet. RitmoNet is the tool that Promusicae uses to avoid having to send physical copies, which, according to the complaints I received, is also being used to block access to anyone who does not work with Promusicae. I have been told that in order to join Promusicae you have to meet certain criteria related to turnover and edited references. The alternative, again according to my sources, is to hand over your copyright to a member of Promusicae.

How does that sound to you? Of course my sources and the experts in competition law that I consulted could be mistaken. Everything is possible. What I don’t understand is that according to Promusicae, the mere possibility that their actions could constitute a monopoly is something they are not prepared to discuss except by suing me for “offending their honor”. It is even stranger if you consider that Promusicae has its own voice (which it has used on frequent occasions to offend the honor of those who use the net) and has managed to discuss things with me in a civil manner on several occasions. Why resort to the justice system if it is far simpler to clarify a possible misunderstanding? Are they trying to intimidate me? Are they are trying to stop me talking about them?

Thanks to their court action the issue has now been commented on numerous Spanish and international sites, including some of the most widely read blogs in the world, and has been extensively aired on Twitter. Thousands of people seem to think it would be reasonable to say that the relations Promusicae enjoys with radio broadcasters and their lists of hit songs smell, sound and look like a monopoly.

How will it end? It’s currently in the hands of a judge. I’ll keep you informed.

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