Leading London-based dance music specialist Ministry of Sound today (Feb. 23) confirmed that it has resigned from U.K. trade body the Association of Independent Music over its support of the Impala decision to back Warner Music Group's approach for EMI.

Ministry of Sound claims to be the largest independent record company in Europe. Ministry of Sound Music Group managing director Lohan Presencer says it was "shocked not to have been consulted over this decision." The company informed AIM of its resignation Feb. 22.

"This deal (the WMG takeover of EMI) would be totally negative for our business," says Presencer. "It makes our lives more difficult in the retail sector, it makes getting racking in store more difficult, it makes getting attention in media more difficult, because these large companies leverage their power to get support for their artists."

He adds: "We already have enough difficulties with the two super majors without there being a third one on the block."

Presencer brands WMG's commitment to fund the independent labels' global digital rights licensing platform Merlin and open up licensing to the independent community as mere "rhetoric." He says: "(It's) a noble announcement to make, but in reality it won't be enforced on the ground and what method of recourse do we have when it's not enforced on the ground? We can't afford to litigate every time a concession is not lived up to."

Presencer also dismisses Impala's claim that the creation of a third strong major would create a more open market. "Two smaller businesses combining doesn't necessarily make a major competitor to Universal, but that consolidation does (mean) they will have more power to leverage against smaller businesses," Presencer argues. "So I don't think it works up, but it impacts down."

Alison Wenham, AIM chairman and chief executive, said in a statement today (Feb. 23): "Not everyone will always agree with positions which are taken on the issues affecting the market, and all companies are entirely at liberty to exercise their own views in whichever way they choose. Nothing has ever prevented others from taking their own position in respect of Warner EMI, or any other music industry merger in front of the Commission over the past seven years."

Presencer says Ministry of Sound will now "communicate directly with the European Commission and make our own representations about the issues surrounding the merger." He calls for "other independents who feel they've been unfairly represented" to join Ministry of Sound, and confirms that the company would consider forming a new indie trade body.

AIM insiders insist most of its members support the Impala, WMG deal.

Impala could not be reached for comment.

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