HITS Daily Double
"The independents will continue to oppose Sony/BMG and Universal/BMG Music and any other music mergers without significant measures in place to counter the impact on competition.”
—-IMPALA statement


European Indie Group to Get Concessions on Digital Rights, More

IMPALA, the non-profit European organization established in April 2000 for the purpose of ensuring assistance and fair market access to independent record companies and music publishers, has agreed to allow Warner Music Group to pursue its acquisition of EMI.

“Both parties believe [it] will help strengthen the independent sector off-line and on-line and should go some way to resolving competition issues arising out of market concentration,” read a statement.

IMPALA has agreed to provide full support for any possible acquisition by WMG of EMI before the European Commission and other regulatory authorities, within the context of increased competition, market access and market recovery measures agreed between WMG and IMPALA. WMG has agreed, subject to the closing of its acquisition of EMI, to implement certain important measures, including:

*Behavioral undertakings to ensure competition and broad licensing.

*Recorded music divestitures to reduce market share and enhance the competitive scale of the independent music sector.

Substantial assistance to build the capacity of the independent music sector through industry bodies and the recently announced Merlin initiative, all of which are crucial to the independent music sector and which give independents full and fair market access, especially to the vital digital business.

WMG is the only major label to work with IMPALA to create a comprehensive framework of solutions to its concerns in relation to previous mergers in front of the EU Commission in 2000 and 2004, as well as the European Court of First Instance in 2005.

Said the statement: ”The independents expect this agreement to be the first in a series of agreements where the majors and the independents work together to meet the challenges confronting the industry and to create new opportunities for the independents. We believe that the majors and the independents need to work together in confronting all of these challenges.

"The independents will continue to oppose Sony/BMG and Universal/BMG Music and any other music mergers without significant measures in place to counter the impact on competition.”

IMPALA President Patrick Zelnik said: "The agreement between IMPALA and WMG proves to what extent there can be a future for music if the independents and the majors work together for a vision of the market which is long term. We have been consistent since 2000 in stating that we will oppose mergers without strong remedies."

Added Beggars Group President Martin Mills, Chairman of IMPALA: "We have never been anti-major. We understand their issues. Full market access for the independents, whether large or small, is what we have always sought, and what this agreement helps to deliver. We hope to get the support of Commissioner Kroes to this innovative market-led solution that we believe will benefit musicians and fans alike, and which sets a crucial precedent."

Of particular interest is WMG’s help in launching the Merlin on-line initiative, which is “ vital to empowering thousands of independents and artists worldwide in the digital world. IMPALA believes that Merlin will serve as a catalyst for entrepreneurialism and diversity on-line. IMPALA believes that the financial and other support being provided through the agreement with WMG provides Merlin with the resources to allow proper aggregation and exploitation of rights by independents which otherwise would take many years to develop. The agreement with WMG recognizes Merlin's importance and provides vital resources to the initiative.”