MIDEM Day 2: Indies Take On MySpace Music

Three days after MySpace Music president Courtney Holt reached out to the indies during his MidemNet keynote, the independent sector was still voicing its concern over terms during MIDEM.

Charles Caldas, CEO of Merlin, which represents 12,000 indie labels, made clear his reasons why he hasn't signed a licensing deal with MySpace Music. Speaking on the Indies in the Digital Landscape Panel, Caldas said he was still "negotiating" with the service.

However, he still has issues with the majors being given equity in MySpace Music, which was not offered to the indies. There were also general concerns among the panelists about the majors getting better terms.

"We were expected to license a service which allowed our major competitors on the supply side to benefit from the use of our repertoire," said Caldas. He described that as a "dangerous" precedent.

Bob Frank, president of Koch Records, represented by Merlin, said that he was "not going to drop my pants and just take whatever deals are put on the table."

Frank added: "I don't view a major as any better than Koch Records."

The Orchard did sign up with MySpace Music from the start and Scott Cohen, founder and VP for Europe, disagreed with the suggestion that independents were always locked out of negotiations. He also noted that market share, not independent status, would dictate terms, so that EMI would not get as good terms as Universal.

The second day of the international music market and conference in Cannes also featured the inaugural International Publishing Summit (see Billboard.biz for separate coverage of the panels). Two independent publishers came together for a discussion about their business: Imagem Music CEO Andre de Raaff and Ralph Peer II, CEO and chairman of Peermusic.

Peer said that publishers were not immune from the difficult economic situation and could expect synch revenue to fall as a result. "One of the areas we are going to find difficult is going to be the fall-out from lower ad revenues," he said.

De Raaff agreed that there were "dangers" for independent publishers, but added that he thinks his company will "do rather well this year."

Imagem acquired classical publisher Boosey & Hawkes in April 2008 and de Raaff said he was impressed with the company's approach, compared to some classical companies that were like "entering a museum." He said the integration of the operations had been straightforward.

During a debate on whether the "super acts" model is sustainable, Kings Of Leon was named as a potential super act, although panelists agreed that too many medium-sized acts were being over-exposed and rushed back to market before the songs were strong enough.

Ossy Hoppe, managing director of Wizard Promotions in Germany, said he was deliberately holding back on bigger shows for Kings Of Leon so that it would be a really "hot ticket" next time. Instead, 5,000-capacity venues were being booked for the band in Germany.

"Some agents and managers don't care," said Hope. "They want to play the arenas."

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