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Business News (more headlines) 01-25-2005

Independent Music Companies Unite In Worldwide Coalition

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Leading independent companies and associations from across the globe have launched a worldwide music coalition to leverage the global collective strength of the independents.

The unanimous decision was taken at an international meeting hosted by the IMPALA board, attended by over 100 independent sector leaders. This was the first ever meeting of the global independent music industry which has been characterized recently by the rapid establishment of powerful independent associations around the world. The Coalition is a response to this movement.

The Coalition members will pool experiences and share expertise to develop an action plan to empower themselves globally. It will deliver an international strategy to deal with the common commercial, political and cultural issues affecting all independents. Work will begin immediately and the Coalition will meet again in May to discuss progress, agree priorities and deliver a proposal for implementing the action plan.

The Coalition consists of all the current associations representing thousands of independent music companies from Australia (AIR) to the UK (AIM), Brazil (ABMI) to the USA (AAIM), Spain (UFI) to New Zealand (IMNZ), Canada (CIRPA) to the EU (IMPALA and its member associations in France, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany and the UK). Any independent association is free to join.

The end game is to grow the independents' market share, improve visibility of independent music and artists, and promote key issues such as market access and cultural diversity in all national, regional and international policies.

Alison Wenham, Impala Vice President and Chair and Chief Executive of AIM, said:   "The MTV and I-Tunes negotiations are just two examples of what we can achieve when we act collectively. The Coalition's action plan will make a radical difference by giving independents all over the world access to these benefits and put them on a level playing field."

Brian Chater, President of CIRPA, Canadian Independent Record Producers Association, Canada, added: "The international agenda of the music business has been dominated by four multinationals. The independents priorities get ignored. Without separate associations, governments never hear that the priority issues for their national companies are very different and very real, from market access, concentration, access to finance through to the unraveling of collective licensing. Co-ordination at international level is vital."

Patrick Zelnik, Impala Vice President and President of Naïve, added: "This is about market access, diversity and consumer choice. Our issues are identical. We need positive discrimination. If we pull together we can co-ordinate an effective agenda that we control as we are doing through IMPALA to protest against Sony/BMG. It is scandalous that Europe, which is responsible for regulating the market and promoting cultural diversity, has not understood that concentration kills diversity. The Coalition's task is to work out how to help governments make economic interests serve culture."

David Vodicka, CEO of AIR, Association of Independent Record Labels, Australia, said: "We are the market leaders in terms of innovation and diversity. This is being stifled all over the world through concentration of radio, TV, and on-line, to the detriment of artists, consumers and national cultures. The Coalition's job is to come up with a blueprint to help independents worldwide overcome the tyranny of business."

Lesley Bleakley, Chair of AAIM, Association of American Independent Music, USA added: "The American independents are forming their own association because we see it as a commercial necessity. It is vital that we contribute to the Coalition. We need to help mould the international action plan and multiply the membership benefits of our own association. We also need it to send a different message to the US administration about what our international priorities should be."

Pena Schmidt, President of ABMI said: "All over the world independent associations are being formed at the same time and for the same reasons. The Coalition's action plan will help all territories take back control of their national music business. It will overcome isolation and provide the organisational, commercial and political tools independent associations need to operate effectively nationally, regionally and internationally."

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