One key piece of news to come out of Midem is the launch of Independent label licensing body Merlin, with a remit to become the ‘fifth major’ in digital licensing. Though the aspiration is a touch on the adventurous side it will give the indies (c. a quarter of global music sales and c. a fifth of European sales) added weight in the major label-skewed digital arena.
Already signed is a deal with the MySpace / Snocap download service, which will used naked MP3, much in the way that eMusic and Wippit already distribute independent label music without DRM.
Will this be enough to make the majors suddenly change their DRM-wedded ways. No, of course not, but it will bring further, welcome, innovation to the digital arena. Also MySpace is a crucial opportunity to run live lab tests among key demographics. If the MySpace / Snocap download service exceeds expectations in the way that iTunes Music Store first did, then you never know, you might just start to see a trickle down effect to the majors.