Bingham McCutchen last week notified Congress it is lobbying for Universal Music Group Inc. on competition matters, becoming the second law firm this year to disclose its advocacy on that issue for a major music label.
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck also filed paperwork with Congress this month to lobby on antitrust matters for the Warner Music Group Corp. subsidiary called WMG Acquisition Corp. The filings come as U.S. antitrust authorities are reviewing Universal's planned acquisition of EMI Group Ltd.
Vivendi SA, Universal’s parent company, announced in November that it signed a $1.9 billion agreement to acquire EMI’s recorded music division. Len Blavatnik, owner of WMG parent company Access Industries Inc., made a $1.5 billion bid for the unit, but withdrew his offer, The Financial Times reported in October.
Universal, home to artists that include Lady Gaga, Kanye West and U2, secured 29.9% of U.S. music sales in 2011, garnering the largest market share of any record company, according to Nielsen Co. and Billboard magazine. EMI, which has the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Coldplay in its artist lineup, controlled 9.6%.
WMG, which counts Cee Lo Green, Death Cab for Cutie and Jason Mraz among its artists, had 19.1%, putting it in third place behind Sony Music Entertainment Inc.
Universal spent $3.7 million on its federal lobbying in 2011, according to congressional records. Bingham received $80,000 from Universal for advocacy work the firm did since it started lobbying for the company on Dec. 8.
Bingham partner Gary Slaiman, who heads the firm’s government affairs practice group, is handling the account
Neither Slaiman nor a Universal spokesman immediately responded to requests for comment.