Sony BMG court hearing set for Sept. 22.

In an environment dominated by the court case against the Sony BMG merger, the international coalition of independent music companies will gather this week in Berlin for its third meeting since its creation at the beginning of 2005.

Representatives from indie labels and national trade groups from around the world will hold a convention Sept. 14 at the Popkomm 2005 trade show in the German capital.

The agenda will center on setting up an international strategy to deal with the independents' common commercial, political and cultural issues. Issues to be discussed include market access, cultural diversity, improving the visibility of independent music and artists, and growing indies' presence in the market.

The coalition was formed at the beginning of 2005 and had its inaugural session at the Midem trade show in January. It also met in June in Barcelona to define the priorities of the new body.

The meeting is part of an agreement between European indies body Impala and Popkomm's organizers to raise the profile of indies during the trade show.

This commitment will be highlighted by the panel "Creativity... YES, Concentration... NO" on Sept. 14 where Impala Board members will outline their strategy on existing and future mergers.

"The independent sector's priorities are gathering momentum on a global scale," says Michel Lambot, Impala president and co-chairman of Brussels-based PIAS/Vital Group.

In addition to the coalition's meeting, Impala will hold a board meeting in Berlin on the same day. Lambot says the agenda of the meeting will include an update on the Sony BMG merger case brought by Impala against the European Commission. The Luxemburg court is due to hold a hearing on Sept. 22.

An indie source close to the case says that the court has done a report for the hearing which has been described as "very impressive and is even better than we could have hoped for."

The source says, "It will be a landmark judgement and will determine future policy in not just music but all media concentrations and in how the EU applies rules across competition and other key policy areas.”