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The Times' editorial board mulls EMI

Emi_logo EMI Group's relatively new chairman, Guy Hands, announced a plan Tuesday to restructure the company's money-losing recorded music division, aiming to shift from the industry's high-risk, high-reward model to something more modest (and profitable). For starters, he wants to make smaller up-front investments in artists, lowering the amount of sales required before they break into the black. Doing so requires further cuts in EMI's expenses, which means 1,500 to 2,000 of the company's employees will be looking for new jobs this year. The layoffs notwithstanding, EMI's willingness to make fundamental changes in its business model struck me as something the LA Times should applaud on its editorial pages. So, in my role as an editorial writer here, I made the pitch at our editorial board meeting yesterday.

As I was summarizing the news for the board, the paper's publisher, David Hiller, came in. He doesn't usually attend our meetings, but he made an exception yesterday because we were planning to discuss something unusually weighty. Anyway, I quickly finished wrapping up what EMI had done and why it seemed noteworthy. Jim Newton, the editorial page editor, said something to the effect of, "So, we're going to say that a company in a dying industry is laying off 2,000 workers, and that's a good thing?" He then looked at Hiller, who laughed (along with everyone else in the room) at the irony of a newspaper commending layoffs at a record company. Ummm, right. Our business models may be similar and our predicaments may be nearly identical, but there's no need for another round of layoffs here! The Times' cost structure is almost completely different from EMI's! Besides, we didn't get advances....

-- Jon Healey

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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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