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MTV: Apple Working On Bringing Independent Labels To iTunes Music Store

MTV: Apple Working On Bringing Independent Labels To iTunes Music Store

by , 11:00 AM EDT, June 4th, 2003

Apple has invited what MTV says is hundreds of independent label reps to a meeting and demonstration of the iTunes Music Store (iMS). The music network's online news outlet says that Apple wants to bring the independent labels, or indies, onboard, and that many of the labels are very interested.

Apple currently offers music from what the industry often calls the Big Five, Sony, Universal, EMI, Warner Brothers, and the Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG). These labels control almost all of today's major acts, as well as back catalogs of what could be millions of songs. Independent labels are smaller labels with a greater or lesser degree of influence, but with tens of thousands of bands signed up. Music produced by independent labels is often outside the mainstream, representing a much wider array of styles, tastes, talent, and sounds than the majors tend to offer.

From the MTV article:

"The plan was to go out of the gate with the five major labels, but there's always been an interest in expanding the store beyond that," an Apple spokesperson said.

Senior iTunes music store staffers will show the label reps how the store runs and they'll perform some hands-on demos, though it is unclear whether Apple boss Steve Jobs will attend. The spokesperson declined to specify which, or how many, labels were invited to the meeting.

One label president who has already booked his flight is Sub Pop co-founder Jonathan Poneman. "I'm very interested in this as the owner of a label," Poneman said. "The Apple store is accessible, well organized and attractive. I wouldn't miss this for the world."

There is additional information about the meeting, and about industry, in the full story at MTV.

The Mac Observer Spin:

This is big, huge even. Apple had to have the Big Five onboard to launch the iMS, as the credibility of having the acts represented by those companies would make or break the iMS from the get-go. As we said in an editorial shortly after the iMS was launched, the real power from the iMS would lie in being able to represent independent labels and artists.

If the company can do so, that could well mark a shift in power in the music industry. One of the cornerstones of real power that the Big Five have is distribution, because that takes money and resources. Online distribution takes a lot less of either, with Apple providing much of both in the iMS. If independents can be offered on equal footing with the majors, there are a lot of smaller artists who will get exposure they could never have gotten before. For extended commentary on this subject, read the TMO column on the subject titled The Real Threat To Record Labels From The Apple Music Stores: Independence.

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