Monday, August 15, 2011

Sadly, It Took a Riot to Bring Indies & Majors Together...

They say tragedy brings us together, but... indies and majors actually working side-by-side? Yes, it is happening, regrettably because of the incredibly destructive warehouse fire in London last week. That's because the Sony DADC warehouse also contained lots of indie products - in fact, hundreds of indie labels were devastated by the riot-produced blaze.

Common enemy, mutual solution, but why does label solidarity require a drastic emergency? Now, British label trade group BPI has pledged 100,000 pounds - or roughly $165,000 - to help labels devastated by recent rioting. And, the fund is being jointly administered with indie consortium AIM, which also started a recovery fund involving PIAS last week. "The BPI is founded on the principle that majors and indies should work together and that a vibrant independent sector benefits the recorded music business as a whole," said group CEO Geoff Taylor said. "For that reason, I am delighted that independent and major members of BPI are showing their solidarity by creating a growing fund to assist indie labels that experience financial difficulties as a result of destruction of stock in the Sony DADC warehouse."

The BPI funding will take the form of interest-free loans, which will help labels reproduce CDs and other merchandise quickly. That will help to bridge the time required to process insurance claims, and allow immediate solutions for downstream retailers. "We want indie labels to get back to normal business as quickly as possible, and we are joining our funding up with AIM's initiative to ensure that those labels affected can afford to replace damaged stock and can focus on creating great music," relayed BPI deputy chairman Mike Batt.

All of that stands in stark contrast to the US, which seems defined by acrimony and anger. US-based indie equivalent A2IM, for example, just won a multi-year wrestling match to get major-leaning Soundscan to recount its marketshares. And just before that, indie retailers were battling major-driven rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West for equal consideration.

Other examples are not difficult to find, on both sides of the Atlantic. On the ligitation end, indie consortium Merlin recently sued Limewire for $5 million after getting bilked on the $105 million, RIAA-driven settlement. But the differences between indies and majors continue to blur, raising the question of whether this level of divisiveness is necessary at all.

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