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EMI turns up mute

Conglom buys Brit indie label for $34 mil

Angling for a new foothold in the British indie rock and dance music genres, EMI Group is buying widely respected U.K. independent label Mute Records for just under $34 million.

Move reps an expansion of a 15-year-old licensing deal between Mute and EMI Recorded Music’s Virgin Records imprint. EMI also will pay roughly $28 million over several years to cover Mute’s operating costs. Indie’s executive chairman Daniel Miller, who founded Mute 23 years ago, will continue to oversee operations worldwide.

“This deal is a natural progression of our relationship with Mute,” said EMI European chief Emmanuel de Buretel in a statement. “I believe in the independent sector. It’s a source of new musical trends and an integral part of the industry’s future.”

Moby disc

Mute’s roster includes U.K. distribution of electronica guru Moby, whose last record sold more than 8 million copies worldwide and whose new release “18” is out this month. Label also houses such rock acts as Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and Mercury prize winner Goldfrapp, as well as popular club DJs Luke Slater and Paul Van Dyk.

EMI has a long history of joint ventures and distribution with venerable indies, including dance and Brit-rock powerhouse Astralwerks, home of Big Beat pioneer Fatboy Slim. Also tied to EMI are the Caroline label and distribution arm, as well as Gotham-based Matador Records, home to Guided By Voices and Belle & Sebastian.