Say what you will about the ageing “indie vs. major” divide, because indie-focused advocacy messages are still resonating.
And, it looks like indies still have unique issues that need to be addressed. Look no further than A2IM, which has signed 15 new indie labels over the past few months. That brings the total to 270 independents. The group is celebrating its latest additions – and overall growth – at its ‘SXSW Breakfast’ at Austin’s Champions Sports Bar (members only, that is…)
But these aren’t fly-by-nighters jumping on board. The latest sign-ons include Big Machine, S-Curve, and dancehall specialists VP Records. Other non-labels joining include Beyond Oblivion (they can afford the dues), finetunes, and Mobile Backstage.
So what are they getting? Some of the indie mystique and struggle is imagined, especially given totally democratized digital distribution channels. And, the imploding major label system makes it harder and harder to hate ‘the man’. Moreover, A2IM chief Rich Bengloff is often stumping for the same issues as the RIAA, though he has also outlined a number of critical – and separate – issues to Digital Music News. That includes the creation of global support structures that match the major networks, and a push to start counting marketshare by master ownership, instead of distribution company.
And, let’s not get carried away with digital utopianism. The reality is that indies are often squeezed in major negotiations. A2IM ally Merlin has mostly been the rabblerouser on this front, most recently with Rdio.