Why is the Independent music space shrinking when the independent market is thriving?
Back in May of 2012 the Orchard; the largest worldwide digital distributor of independent music acquired fellow U.S. digital distributor IRIS Distribution, bringing further consolidation to the digital distribution marketplace after merging with the largest U.S. based independent music distributor IODA earlier in March of the same year. The merger came as no surprise considering that Sony had 51% control of IODA and had been courting the Orchard since early 2009.
The icing that tops the cake is the Orchard’s acquisition of IRIS, which stood alone as the largest distributor of independent music in the U.S. following IODA’s merger. The IODA merger positioned Sony to take hold of a 50% stake in the venture and with the acquisition of IRIS Sony will inevitably move forward on its option to buy the remaining 50% of the new venture and ultimately hold the largest music catalogue of both major and independent artists.
Is this Sony’s sinister plot to control the ENTIRE music industry and it’s earnings? One could argue that point, but it won’t be me. What I will say is that a lot of things are starting to add up. In April of 2008 when Sony agreed to acquire Gracenote for it’s MusicID technology for the tune of $260 Million dollars I couldn’t quite figure out what Sony had up there sleeve’s.
Although I speculated around a few rumors when Sony and IODA started their relationship it took me a while to put things together. Its clear to me now that Sony only acquired Gracenote in anticipation for what has come to past. Prior to the merger and acquisition of the two largest independent music distributors in the U.S. Gracenotes technology was only golden to the major labels and distributors of major label artists. But now that Sony will hold such a large catalogue of music from so many independent artists having Gracenote’s technology is a must to protect the rights of all its newly acquired members and their content.
It is in the opinion of this writer that members of the independent music market must start taking control of their destiny and standing up for themselves and the entire indie scene, otherwise the playing field will never be level for indie artists. The majors are now tapping into what was once considered as an insignificant sector of the market and cleverly positioning themselves to monetize your efforts without ever signing you to a major label contract.
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