Independent labels' global digital-licensing agency Merlin is in the process of finalizing its full board of directors, an announcement on which will be made in August.

Merlin, which is working with the international accountancy group KPMG to implement the 15-member board's infrastructure, confirmed the development yesterday during the annual general meeting of AIM, the U.K. indie labels' trade body.

The Merlin board will comprise five directors from North America, five from Europe, plus five from the rest of the world, said Charles Caldas, Merlin's CEO.

Candidates from the independent sector, including labels, distributors and digital-content aggregators, will be invited to put their names before the end of July. The results are expected sometime in August.

The current permanent directors are Alison Wenham, president of the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) and Caldas.

"We face the challenge of seeing independents being cut out of the value chain for the emerging business models," Caldas told the audience. "With the launch of Merlin, this will no longer be the case."

Meanwhile, AIM has four new board members: Sir Harry Cowell, managing director of music company Private and Confidential Group; Safta Jaffrey, owner of publishing company Taste Music; Andy MacDonald, chairman of label Independiente; and Trevor McNamee, managing director of label Jalapeno.

Caldas was followed by keynote guest Nitin Sawhney. The Mercury Music Prize-nominated artist expressed his gratitude to independent labels for allowing him to retain true to his creative beliefs.

"I have written the score for about 40 movies, and am now working on the score for the next Sony PlayStation 3 game "Heavenly Sword." I have worked with Paul McCartney, met Nelson Mandela and sold out twice at the Royal Albert Hall,' Sawhney said.

"From the bedroom mentality, I outrun those who wanted to put me in boxes," he said about the marketing strategy of attaching acts to specific genres.

"But is through independent labels that I have been able to do this. Independent record companies protect (us) from losing our identities."

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