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Indie label community steps up global efforts

By | Published on Tuesday 29 January 2013


The globally-focused indie labels grouping the Worldwide Independent Network yesterday announced the formation of a global council made up of key independent music players in a bid to add “weight and authority to WIN’s global stature”.

The new council was unveiled at MIDEM in Cannes as the body also published a new manifesto which, it says, “sets out a clear view of the basic, unchanging beliefs and values which together bind the global independent music sector”.

The new initiatives follow a dramatic year for the independent domain, which saw its two biggest rivals, Universal Music and Sony Music, both significantly enlarged through their respective acquisition of the EMI record company and music publishing business. Officially the indie sector opposed both acquisitions, though some key players in the independent community broke rank, especially once Universal chief Lucian Grainge made promises to sell off a chunk of EMI’s label assets in Europe to independent players.

Nevertheless, the new global council and manifesto reunites indie chiefs from both sides of the debate on the EMI issue, with one of the most prominent independent bosses, certainly in the UK, Beggars’ Martin Mills telling CMU: “These days independents offer a very different route to market to artists than the majors do – and it’s great to have that down in words, and to spell out what matters to us”.

The inaugural WIN council is as follows:

Michael Gudinski, Mushroom (Australia)
Michel Lambot, PIAS (Belgium)
Stephan Bourdoiseau, Wagram (France)
Emmanuel de Buretel, Because (France)
Mark Chung, Freibank (Germany)
Oke Gottlich, Finetunes/VUT (Germany)
Florian Von Hoyer, Altafonte (Spain)
Jonas Strostrom , Playground (Sweden/Scandinavia)
Laurence Bell, Domino (UK)
Doug D’Arcy, Songlines (UK)
Daniel Miller, Mute (UK)
Martin Mills, Beggars (UK)
Daniel Glass, Glassnote (US)
Jim Selby, Naxos (US)
Darius Van Arman, Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian (US)

Meanwhile, the WIN Independent Manifesto reads thus…

1. We, the independents, will work to grow the value of music and the music business. We want equal market access and parity of terms with Universal, Warner and Sony, and will work with them in areas where we have a common goal. We will work to ensure that all companies in our sector are best equipped to maximise the value of their rights.

2. We support creators’ freedom to decide how their music may be used commercially, and we will encourage individual artists and labels to speak out directly against unauthorised uses of music as well as commercial uses of music that stifle that freedom. We support creators’ right to earn a living from their work, which should be respected as a basic human right.

3. We support independent music labels that treat their artists as partners and who work with them on reasonable commercial terms, noting that labels are investors who deserve a fair return alongside their artists.

4. We promote transparency in the digital music market; artists and companies are entitled to clarity on commercial terms.

5. We oppose further consolidation in the recorded music, publishing and radio sectors since this is bad for independent music companies, their artists and fans, as it reduces market access and consumer choice.

6. We support initiatives which confront market abuse, and which aim to adapt competition laws to promote independent market access and foster collective responses by independents to potentially anti-competitive conduct by large operators.

7. We recognise that all independent music businesses contribute to local culture, diversity, jobs and export opportunities, and multiply the economic success of related industries. We will ask governments to promote and support the independent music sector in securing access to finance and tax credits, and to local and international markets.

8. We hold that collecting society revenues must be allocated and distributed accurately and transparently. This includes distribution of unclaimed money that logically belongs to the independents. We will push for the independent sector to be formally represented in the governance of collecting societies, with trade associations being eligible for board seats.

9. We support the creation of a worldwide track-level sound recording rights database, subject to neutral governance and ownership, to ensure accurate distribution of rights revenues to their rightful owners.

10. The independents will, as always, actively encourage and support new commercial opportunities for music, and will continue to support and develop new, legitimate business structures and partnerships.