Birth of the “Fifth Major?”

At the MidemNet Conference in Cannes, France, a new agency representing the “world’s independent music sector” has been created that will work with a lot of the new “Web 2.0” companies allowing independent labels to sell their music on sites like MySpace and YouTube.

Named Merlin, this agency will represent a sector of the music industry that represents 30% of all music sales and so they are referring to themselves as the “fifth major” with Vivendi’s Universal Music, Sony BMG, EMI Group and Warner Music Group representing the major lables who account for the lions share of music sales. It is expected that Merlin will announce a partnership with MySpace in conjunction with Napster creatror Sean Fanning’s Snocap company that will make it easy for labels to sell on the hugely popular social networking site.

The thing that impresses me most about announcements like this is that we are finally getting to see the infamous “level playing field” that everybody has been saying the Internet would provide the indies. My only question now would be what criteria are used to gain admission to Merlin as a lot of the labels that I deal with are pretty small, even by indie standards.