Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Allen Johnston / The Music Specialist

Look out Independent entertainment companies, there is a new twist coming that will ultimately wreck havoc upon your business. Organizations are popping up that are speaking for ALL independent companies and the African-American based labels don’t even know that they exist. Here are a few of the many organizations that are starting to direct the course of independent business worldwide.

The world’s first global rights-licensing agency for the independent sector was launched at Midem 2007 and the implications for USA independent record labels are far reaching.

What is happening is that one agency MERLIN has established itself to negotiate and license indie releases worldwide. The reasoning is that the independent record labels represent 30% of the music market and 80% of its product; this is larger than ANY major record label. .

Based in London and the Netherlands, MERLIN will operate as a stand-alone non-profit company, owned by its members. It is the sister organization of the World Independent Network and has been incubated by WIN as its first major global project.

Announced one year ago at Midem 2006 and operational for six (6) months the global organization representing the independent music sector is making its presence felt.

Alison Wenham, chairman of AIM in the UK and vice president of IMPALA, was elected the first ever president of governing body WIN at a meeting attended by over 20 independent trade associations representing thousands of independent music companies from A2IM (USA) UK (AIM), Australia (AIR), Brazil (ABMI), France (UPFI), Germany (VUT), Spain (UFI), FONO (Norway), SOM (Sweden) ADISQ (Quebec), IMNZ (New Zealand), PIL (Israel) Pronofon (Mexico) AIRCO (South Africa), to New Zealand (IMNZ), Canada (CIRPA).


IMPALA was established in April 2000 at the initiative of prominent independent labels and national trade associations. It is an international non profit-making trade association with a scientific and artistic purpose.
Independent record and music publishing labels come together to identify, discuss and liaise on issues of common interest. Impala has 3500 members including top independents and national trade associations
Impala’s aims are to:
represent indigenous European independent music companies and promote their competitiveness in the interests of cultural diversity
ensure better market access for independents

enforce antitrust rules to stimulate competition and consumer's choice, combating industry concentration

fight discrimination against small companies by large ones, from inside and outside the music industry

negotiate collective pan-European deals for members

tailor specific financial support mechanisms to the independent music industry

adopt at international trade level of measures that contribute to upholding cultural diversity

promote strong but fair copyright protection to fight against unauthorized and illegitimate use of artist’s works

promote the vital role of music and micro, small and medium sized enterprises in driving Europe's knowledge and innovation economies

function as a network for members and national associations to co-operate

seek positive discrimination for members

The Association of Independent Music is a non-profit-making trade organization for independent record companies and distributors in the UK. Our job is to help our individual members' businesses, and to support the needs of the independent sector.

We do this through:
Legal and Business Affairs guidance
Work Experience Scheme
Commercial Negotiation
Lobbying and Bargaining
Opening Access to International Markets

Figuring that they stand a better chance at being heard if they are united, 125 American indie labels have united and formed an organization called the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM).

A2IM will urge government and business to support fair trade practices, including equal access to the media and the marketplace, on par with the largest companies in the industry. In addition, A2IM will act as the leading edge for the exploration of new and innovative forms of music exposure and distribution.

They're hoping to help give indie businesses the power their collective market share deserves as the music business is transformed by digital technologies, much like their European counterparts in the Association of Independent Music.

As you can see, this is the time for Indies to stake their claim to the new realities of the marketplace and hopefully they will. Blatant to this whole configuration of organizations is the fact that less than 1% are people of color. Not one of the successful African-American labels has been to the conference table with any of these organizations. WHY??????


Johnny said...

There's some serious mis-information going on here, as well as thinly-veiled accusations of racism. There are no African-American members of AIM or Impala because they are EUROPEAN organisations, representing European record labels. As for WIN and Merlin, these organisations have a large, independent US representation, although I cannot comment on the ethnicity of the representatives. I would also love to know where you got your figure of 1%.

The Music Specialist said...

The accusations are NOT thinly veiled they are real. Not only are there NO African American members, but the European organizations have been extremely selective in making sure that brown & black people are not represented.

Why don't you reach out and take your blinders off.