Merlin left out of MySpace Music launch

CEO Charles Caldas criticizes starting without indies

LONDON -- Merlin, the global rights body for independent labels, has described the launch of MySpace Music without its members' repertoire as "incredibly disappointing."

However, the London-based trade association said it remains in negotiations to license its members' music. Merlin said its represents labels who have a 9% share of the U.S. digital recorded music market.

Merlin CEO Charles Caldas was critical of the decision to launch Thursday without the indies, and the exclusion of the independent sector from any equity component in the new venture.

"It is incredibly disappointing that MySpace will launch their new service without having finalized a deal with the world's most important independent labels and artists," said Caldas in a statement.

Caldas added that it was "absolutely clear that any independent deal struck without an equity component (as was done with the majors), will see independent labels face a situation whereby their major competitors will profit from the use of their (the indies') repertoire without an appropriate upside opportunity being extended to them (the indies') by MySpace Music and its major label equity partners."

MySpace launched the service as a joint venture with all the majors -- EMI Music Group signed up at the eleventh hour -- and Sony/ATV Music Publishing. It also unveiled licensing deals with digital aggregator the Orchard and distribution groups as ADA, Red, Fontana and Caroline.

"Whilst Merlin continues our negotiations, we remain extremely concerned that with MySpace Music the major record labels are acting not only as competitors, but through their equity stakes in the venture, as the clients/end user as well," added Caldas. "Without an equitable participation by independents, that creates a situation that is both unhealthy and dangerous."