Richard Branson set to buy back Virgin Records

GregJohnson July 18, 2012 0
Richard Branson set to buy back Virgin Records

Multi-billionaire Sir Richard Branson has spent half a century developing his reputation as one of the most astute businessmen you could find, so it may come as a surprise that he is looking to re-enter an industry that, from the outside at least, appears to be struggling.

With the advent of digital downloads and the popularisation of social media, big music labels are finding it increasingly difficult to make serious sums of money.

It is something of a surprise, then, that Sir Richard has declared his interest in acquiring Virgin Records, the firm he founded more than 40 years ago.

He confirmed the news via Twitter, telling his followers: “Looking into buying #virginrecords. Great opportunity to recreate a dynamic independent label.”

Sir Richard founded the company in 1970, at the age of 20, and then sold it in 1995 to Thorn EMI for £510 million.

Since then, however, the fortunes of the music industry, at least from a business standpoint, have taken a turn for the worse, with a number of labels being put out of business by illegal downloading.

But, clearly, the London-born entrepreneur is confident that he can breathe new life into Virgin Records and turn it into a thriving label once more.

How he intends to do this exactly is not quite clear, but given his extraordinary track record of success and the diversity of his business portfolio, it’d be difficult to back against Sir Richard.

The takeover is significant in a wider game of musical chairs (if you excuse the pun) that is going on within the industry.

Vivendi-owned Universal Music, the current owner of Virgin Records, is interested in selling the asset in order to satisfy competition authorities.

Universal is seeking to buy EMI for a whopping £1.2 billion.

Branson’s original stint with Virgin Records saw the release of such iconic hits as Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, The Rolling Stones and, albeit briefly, The Sex Pistols.

Do you think this is a good move for the music industry? Will Branson bring the good times back to Virgin or do you fear it the tycoon will be focused only on raw money rather than the music?