At the Midemet music conference this weekend in Cannes, France, a new licensing agency named Merlin representing the independent music sphere launched itself, and announced it had forged an agreement with Sean Fanning’s Snocap to offer music from independent record labels for sale via MySpace and other popular online destinations. The move would put the social networking site—one of the Internet’s most-visited destinations—into direct competition with other online music services like Apple’s iTunes. And, just to make things more interesting, the downloads will be available in straight MP3 format, unencumbered by digital rights management technology, so they’ll work in essentially any media player.
The agreement could potentially put music from thousands of independent music labels into Snocap’s “MyStores,” Snocap’s retail effort which will enable U.S. music listeners to purchase and download music from MySpace Music Service. MySpace announced its planned to offer music from independent artists via Snocap back in September, 2006: but, in theory, Snocap’s MyStores aren’t limited to MySpace: any Web service which enabled HTML editing can, in theory, be used to host MyStore content. MySpace expects to formerly launch support for Snocap’s MyStore “in the near future.”
Merlin CEO Charles Caldas said, “Snocap has revolutionized how independent labels can distribute music online. Our deal with Snocap is a perfect example of the value that Merlin brings to its members and to new music services, by creating an easy one-stop mechanism for both to do business.” Merlin is based out of London; Caldas formerly headed up Australia’s largest independent music distributor.
One of Snocap’s founders is Sean Fanning, who first achieved notoriety as the found of the original peer-to-peer-sharing version of Napster.
Merlin’s agreement will serve as a global template deal offered to all member of Merlin; once members sign on, their content will be available for sale via Snocap’s MyStore, which, in turn, will make it available for sale via MySpace pages.
“This deal epitomizes what SNOCAP’s MyStores were designed to achieve—bringing more music to more people,” said Snocap CE Rusty Rueff. “We are thrilled to bring the independent labels and artists that Merlin represents to the digital marketplace and direct to music consumers.”
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