IMPALA

HELEN SMITH

Executive chairman

As the repercussions of Universal Music Group’s merger with EMI rippled around the world last year, Helen Smith and Impala, the trade organization representing independent labels in Europe, stepped into an unprecedented role in divestment negotiations, giving indies a seat at the table and helping put assets in potentially the hundreds of millions of dollars toward a more diversified marketplace. In partnership with independent digital rights agency Merlin and Warner Music Group, whose winning $762 million bid for EMI’s Parlophone Label Group was a kind of consolation prize, Impala is creating a framework by which the independent sector will gain access to 25%-33% of the Parlophone assets, or their equivalent in assets from WMG. Call it lemonade from lemons. “We’re optimistic that this process will be a model for the future and ensure that there’s not just a place, but a great place for independents in the marketplace,” says Smith, who expects the transfer of assets to be settled in 2014. “Going forward, I think we’ll see an increasing bid by independents to take control of their own commercial and political destiny.” —Reggie Ugwu