Indies Plan Legrand Summit

The agenda for the International Indie Summit at MIDEM Jan. 20 doesn’t mention Sony-BMG, and there may be too many other pressing issues to make room for it.

Whatever else the indie sector is facing, being marginalised by the might of the majors and failing to get music on MySpace’s new online music store are the most pressing issues.

The MySpace issue will definitely be discussed, as the indies look at the number of digital platforms or services that have launched without any content from indie labels.

The ad-funded service lets MySpace members listen to streamed tracks for free and create playlists of their favourites.
The opening of the store brought criticism from Charles Caldas, head of independent rights body Merlin. He said it was “incredibly disappointing” that the service launched without finalising a deal with the biggest independent labels and artists.

Merlin’s members, which include Koch, Beggars Group and Domino, have a 9 percent share of the U.S. music market – roughly equivalent to EMI’s market share.

MySpace, which has set up the new service in cahoots with the majors, has 120 million members. Caldas said Merlin has been unable to reach an agreement because the Web site insists on treating the consortium’s members differently.

The other topics lined up for discussion in a series of panels chaired by Emmanuel Legrand – a former global editor at Billboard and now editor of Impact magazine – include the fact that more and more artists are setting up their own labels.

That in itself isn’t new, but some acts are moving beyond the vanity labels set up to release their own productions and on to fully fledged structures that sign, nurture and develop other artists.

The conference, which has been set up by Impala, the indies’ trade organisation, will also include discussion on how acts can get started in America.

Specialists of the U.S. market, including distributors, managers and lawyers, will provide expert views on how to best approach the market.

In the current financial climate, no summit would be complete without some discussion on how the economic crisis will impact the business.

With a recession looming and credit scarce, the indie labels have problems of their own. How can they weather the storm with limited damages? Finance and management experts will offer their solutions.

Midem is at Cannes, France, Jan. 18-21.