MySpace Music Launches Without World’s Leading Independent Labels And Artists

Said Charles Caldas CEO Merlin, Global Rights Body For Independent Sector:

It is incredibly disappointing that MySpace will launch their new service without having finalised a deal with the world’s most important independent labels and artists. It certainly makes Chris DeWolfe’s public statements*, that the "indie bands are really the heart of MySpace", ring extremely hollow.

“What is absolutely clear, however, is that any independent deal struck without an equity component (as was done with the majors), will see independent labels face a situation whereby their major competitors will profit from the use of their repertoire without an appropriate upside opportunity being extended to them by MySpace Music and its Major Label equity partners.

“Whilst Merlin continues our negotiations, we remain extremely concerned that with MySpace Music the major record labels are acting not only as competitors, but through their equity stakes in the venture, as the clients/end user as well. Without an equitable participation by independents, that creates a situation that is both unhealthy and dangerous.

"Merlin, the global rights agency represents the largest basket of rights outside of the majors labels, with a US market share equivalent to that of the smallest majors”

*Chris DeWolfe quoted in an interview with Laura Locke for
See also Eliot Van Buskirk’s blog on

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About Merlin
Merlin represents the global independent record sector (which collectively accounts for 80% of the world’s new releases and a 27.5% share of the global music market*), ensuring it has effective access to new and emerging revenue streams.

Merlin offers rights users the opportunity to license collectively the individually unlicensable by creating a single point of contact for those wishing to license from the vast global output of the independent sector, as well as ensuring its members’ rights are properly protected. Merlin represents by far the largest and most compelling basket of global independent rights, and so offers the most efficient means of licensing this repertoire.

A global organisation, its members’ market share in the US alone is 9%, equal to that of EMI Music, whilst in Europe member labels released 72% of the top 60 independent albums released in the past three years and commanded a 75% UK market share of the top 75 independent albums in 2007.
Merlin’s burgeoning membership includes some of the music industry’s most iconic labels. In the UK, Beggars Group (the largest independent in the UK), Rough Trade, Domino, Cooking Vinyl, Century Media, Cherry Red, Kitchenware Records and Warp Records are all members. In the US KOCH (the largest independent in the US), Concord, Tommy Boy, Razor & Tie, Saddle Creek, Robbins Entertainment, Dualtone Music Group, Ghostly International and Stones Throw are represented.
In Europe members include [PIAS] Group (the largest pan-European independent), Blanco Y Negro (the largest independent in Spain), Epitaph, Edel, Naive, Wagram, Aggro Berlin, !K7, Kontor Records, Ministry of Sound (Germany), SPV and Gazell.  In the rest of the world Merlin represents labels like Brazil’s MCD and South Africa’s Bula Music. Members also include distributors and aggregators such as IODA, Finetunes, State 51, Shock Entertainment, Virtual Label and Kontor. 
Merlin operates outside the space occupied by Collecting Societies and distributors, redressing the false assumption that for emerging media, only the majors need to be licensed, with the rest free to air.  

Merlin operates as a stand-alone company owned by a not for profit foundation. Its activities and the scope of its operations are supervised by an elected board representing its members.
 * Independent sector global market share 2006 is 27.5%, source Music & Copyright, Jul 2007. 80% of releases stat based on an amalgamation of Nielsen Soundscan figures (2005: 81.65% of total US releases were independent) and BPI figures (2005: 83% of total UK releases were independent).

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