In short (okay, it’s too late for that), there are reasons for at least part of the strange and bureaucratic mess of nonprofit tax and finance rules. The trick is in sifting away the messes that aren’t necessary from those that actually make us who we are.
The pending merger of Sony Music and BMG will, among other things, bring together the two most consequential archives of recorded American music and spoken word assembled during the 20th century under the ownership of a single, non-U.S. corporation. The exact size of the two collections of master discs and tapes has never been made public (and is most likely unknown), but it is fair to assume that the combined archive will include at least four million recorded performances. Of course, mergers and acquisitions in the media industries have been commonplace for decades. But, given the historical depth and sheer size of these collections, it is significant that the placement of large blocks of heritage in a giant, non-U.S. company has to date generated virtually no public outcry.