Two bodies were rivals until a few months ago.

Two Italian music industry representative bodies, FIMI and AFI, which were rivals until a few months ago, have signed a federation agreement October 7 which will subsequently lead to a merger. The new organization will be called "Federazione Sistema Musica Italia," or the "Italy Music System Federation."

"As of January 2006 we will have shared status as music sector representatives at Confindustria, the country's main industrial body, but the intention is to work towards a complete merger some time after that," FIMI president Enzo Mazza tells Billboard.

In a joint statement FIMI and AFI declare that the federation agreement is designed to "join forces at a moment of transformation for the music industry."

AFI is the older body. FIMI was formed in 1992 when the country's major labels decided to leave and start their own organization, which effectively became the country's main representative body in 1998, when large number of indies exited AFI to join FIMI. Mario Limongelli, president of the indie label Nar International and one of the leaders of the exodus, subsequently became a FIMI vice-president.

The landscape was, however, to change dramatically in July of this year when the overwhelming majority of FIMI's indie members left in order to form a new association, PMI (Produttori Musicali Indipendenti, or "Independent Musical Producers"). The new organization's president is former FIMI vice-president Mario Limongelli. This move brought to four the total number of Italian music representative bodies: there is also Audiocoop, an organization of smaller "cottage industry" indie labels.

PMI met for the first time October 7 with the country's collecting society SIAE in the Society's Rome offices. "We presented ourselves to SIAE and asked to be given the same recognition as Italy's other representative bodies and this request was greeted positively," PMI president Mario Limongelli, who met with SIAE director-general Angelo Della Valle, tells Billboard.