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Indie labels fight Sony BMG merger

Music indies appeal to EU

Europe’s independent record companies are taking the unprecedented step of appealing the European Commission’s approval of the Sony BMG merger.

The two merged companies have already started the restructuring process, and the surprise decision by the board of the independent labels’ trade association, Impala, marks the first time a merger approval in the entertainment sector has been the subject of an appeal. Impala represents more than 2,500 member companies.

Impala received the Commission’s official merger decision approval on 23 September and following consultation with its members, the organization received overwhelming support for the appeal.

Impala president Michel Lambot said in a statement: “Although this is not the first time third parties have appealed a Commission decision approving a merger, it is a historic moment for the music business. It is the first time the industry has ever seen such a stance against concentration in the name of market access, fair play and diversity. What impresses me is the extent of feeling right across the sector that enough is enough.”

The necessary funds for an appeal have already been committed by Impala and UK trade body, the Association of Independent Music (AIM).

The indies claim the four major record companies have a 95% market share when looking at the Top 100 sales in Europe, which, claim the indies, is detrimental to the emergence of new artists and creativity.

Alison Wenham, CEO of AIM and vice president Impala, said: “The threat of a duopoly operating in the business without any real constraints is too great for any serious company or sector to ignore. The independents deserved better from the EU, and it is our intention to ensure that the facts of our case are properly respected.

“No-one should doubt the seriousness of the decision made by Impala. AIM will be leading the UK independent sector in full support of the Impala position and we will fight to ensure that this flawed decision is overturned.

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