《经济学人》:出售音乐公司,塞壬之歌
日期:2011-05-25 11:08

(单词翻译:单击)

Selling music companies
出售音乐集团

Siren song
塞壬之歌

No one wants to pay for music. Yet investors are splurging on music firms
人们不想为听歌付费,但投资者们仍在音乐公司上挥霍

May 12th 2011 | from the print edition

And you thought Cher was extravagant

SAY what you like about the men who built business empires from the wreckage of Soviet communism. To money-losing Western outfits, they are angels. Roman Abramovich turned Chelsea football club into a winner. Alexander Lebedev rescued the Evening Standard and Independent newspapers. And on May 6th Len Blavatnik, an oil magnate, agreed to pay $3.3 billion for Warner Music Group. The stunned reaction among music executives suggests that his is the greatest act of charity yet.

谈谈这些你所听说过的男人,来自苏维埃共和国存体却创造了商业帝国。对于西方亏损机构而言,他们就如同天使。罗曼阿布拉莫维奇将切尔西足球酒吧变成冠军;亚历山大列别杰夫将《伦敦晚报》和《独立日报》从运营困境中解救;以及5月6日石油大亨布拉瓦特尼克,投资华纳音乐集团33亿美元,这一惊人举动是只因几位音乐执行推举他为目前最富有的慈善家。

Warner Music was born in 2003, when Edgar Bronfman and a group of investors paid $2.6 billion for Time Warner’s music division. Mr Bronfman, heir to a whisky fortune, was known as an unlucky investor. New York magazine called him “possibly the stupidest person in the media business”. Not any more. He has managed to sell a company in a collapsing industry for substantially more than it cost (and there are rumours that another suitor will yet try to trump Mr Blavatnik’s offer). It is like making a killing on a buggy-whip firm in the car-crazy 1920s.

华纳音乐诞生于2003年,由艾德加??布隆夫曼和一群投资家于投资了26亿美元而成立。布隆夫曼先生在收购了威士忌酒的产业后,被公认为不幸运的投资者。《纽约杂志》称他“可能是媒体商业中最愚蠢的人”。的确再也找不到更愚蠢的人了。他管理了售出一家在夕阳产业的公司,但事实上高超它应有的售价,(并且有谣言称另一家参与竞标的公司手中仍有布拉瓦特尼克先生的王牌)。这就如同在20世纪20年代扼杀一家过时的公司。

Since 2003 global CD sales have roughly halved. Competition from pirates has crushed retailers and forced record labels to cut prices. Rising digital music sales, mostly through Apple’s iTunes store, have not nearly made up for these losses. And it is still unclear whether music-streaming outfits such as Spotify will reverse the decline or accelerate it by drawing honest people away from buying music.

自从2003年全球CD销量减半后,来自盗版的竞争已经影响到了零售业,并且强迫唱片公司降低价格。数字音乐销售的上涨,很大部分来自苹果的iTunes商店,但仍旧不能弥补这些损失。至今仍旧未知,像Spotify这样的在线音乐播放机构,营业额是否会继续减少?还是能通过那些会购买音乐的诚实人使营业额有所提升?

Under Mr Bronfman and his private-equity partners, Warner Music drastically pruned costs in the mid-2000s. Executives went from flying first class to business class, then to economy. For a while revenues held up, suggesting it was possible to run a successful music firm on the cheap. But since 2008 Warner’s recorded-music sales have dropped by 15%. Its “artist and repertoire” costs, which include scouting and signing artists, are also dropping. That is a worrying sign, akin to a drug firm spending less on R&D.

在布隆夫曼和他私人股东伙伴的经营下,华纳音乐彻底裁剪成本到2000左右。从经济上,执行者从头等舱将为商务层。为了总收入支撑下去,这是运营一家音乐公司成功的可能性建议之一。但从2008年华纳录制音乐销售已经下跌了15%。它的“艺人和节目”成本,包括粉丝见面会和签约歌手的数量等,也同样在减少。这是一个令人担忧的信号,就如同药品公司在研发部门削减花费一样。

Investors argue that music publishing (that is, the trade in songs rather than recorded music) is still flush. This is true. Advertisers and TV broadcasters are hooked on music, and that brings money to record labels. But firms must cultivate songwriters for years. Warner’s publishing business is weak—its share of the market has slipped in the past two years to 13.9%, according to Music & Copyright, a trade publication. The accident-prone EMI has done better.

投资者们为维持音乐出版的营业收入而争论(是由于歌曲的经营比录制音乐要好)。广告和电视通告与音乐挂钩,这能为唱片公司带来收益。但是公司必须花几年时间培养歌曲创作者。华纳出版商业是弱势的——根据音乐版权这一传统出版商的数据,它只能在两年来下滑13.9%的市场上分一杯羹。极容易出状况的EMI而言已经做了更好。

The scuttlebutt now is that Warner will try to buy EMI from Citigroup, which seized it earlier this year from Terra Firma, another private-equity firm. That would make some sense. Warner is strong in America; EMI is strong in Europe. And rich technology firms want to emulate Apple by building businesses on music: Google launched a music-storage service on May 10th. The bigger the music firm, the more it can pick winners and steer the digital market. A merged EMI-Warner would be a serious rival to Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest music company.

现在的流言是华纳试图从这个早年在陆地上建立起的独立资本集团花旗手中买下EMI。这是合情合理的。华纳在美国很知名,EMI在欧洲很知名。还有富有的科技公司想模仿苹果在音乐上的商业模式,如谷歌在5月10日上线了它的音乐存储服务产品。音乐公司规模越大,它将更有机会挑选用户并把握数字市场方向。对于全球最大的音乐公司环球唱片而言,EMI和华纳的结合体将成为其强大的对手。

Overpaying for two music firms is thus not twice as crazy as overpaying for one. But Mr Blavatnik may not get the chance. A merger between EMI and Warner Music has been stymied by regulators before, and Citigroup may not have the patience for endless wrangling. Also, the brisk auction for Warner Music suggests there will be no shortage of rich men willing to lose—sorry, risk—money on a record company.

给两家公司不止两倍的过高买价如同给其中一家过高报价一样疯狂。但是布拉瓦特尼克先生没有抓住这次机会。EMI和华纳的音乐巨头结合之前收到了监管机构的阻挠,并且花旗集团对没完没了的争执也失去了耐心。与此同时,对于华纳音乐轻松拍卖的建议对这些富有的人而言,只能很抱歉,因为投资录音公司是一件冒风险的事。

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重点单词
  • fortunen. 财产,命运,运气
  • sirenn. 汽笛,警报器 n. [希神]塞壬(半鸟半女人的怪物
  • repertoiren. (准备好演出的)节目,保留剧目,(计算机的)指令表
  • copyrightn. 版权,著作权 adj. 版权的
  • declinen. 衰微,跌落; 晚年 v. 降低,婉谢
  • reversen. 相反,背面,失败,倒档 adj. 反面的,相反的,
  • flushv. 奔流,发红,冲洗,迅速流过 n. 脸红,奔流,旺盛
  • acceleratevt. 加速,提前,跳级 vi. 加速
  • charityn. 慈善,慈善机关(团体), 仁慈,宽厚
  • patiencen. 耐心,忍耐,毅力 n. 单人玩的牌戏