3- Inside Operation: The Branch Plant as Local-global Mediator - Richard Sutherland, Mount Royal University

4:00 PM, Saturday 25 May 2019 (2 hours)
Guided tour "Montréal in jazz"   06:00 PM to 08:00 PM (2 hours)
The characterization of the Canadian operations of major labels, including EMI Canada, as branch plants is technically correct. They are wholly owned subsidiaries of larger multinational operations. However, this term can be misleading, suggesting a straightforward command and control structure while obscuring the complexity of the relations between the various branches of these corporations. Patrick Wikstrom notes that multinational music companies must be attentive to the conditions of the local markets in which they operate. Documents in the EMI Music Canada archives offer some insight into these relations, documenting the negotiations and deliberations concerning both its own operations and those of other branches from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. This paper will focus on the decision making processes for selecting which international recordings were released in the Canadian market – not only how these were selected for release, but also how they were marketed, and, just as crucially, how expenses and revenues were shared between various branches. The same considerations apply to the process of getting Canadian acts released and promoted in other markets. In either case EMI Canada acted as mediator – between the larger corporation or other branches and the Canadian market in the former instance, and between Canadian artists or independent labels and the larger corporation in the latter. This will help elaborate EMI Canada’s role as point of transition between local and global interests, as well as the precise ways in which multinational music corporations have acted to direct global flows of capital and culture.
Mount Royal University
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