MySpace Music launched in Australia last week with all four major label groups plus indie labels from IODA and The Orchard. But left off the new service were some of the bigger names in down under indie music like The Temper Trap, Midnight Juggernauts, Nick Cave, Sia and significant local labels like Shock, Inertia, MGM, Liberation/Mushroom, as well as other global independents.
The dispute is part of one that has been going on globally since the launch of MySpace Music in the U.S. Led by trade group Merlin, some indie labels have chosen to boycott the service until they get a deal closer to the one negotiated by the majors which include a combined 40% equity stake.
At the launch of the US service in 2008, MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe’s said that “indie bands are really the heart of MySpace”. But his comments took on an air of hypocrisy for some in the indie community when MySpace launched without the major independents represented by Merlin - which collectively represents 10% of all global music sales including indies like Beggars Group, Epitaph Records, PIAS, Koch/E1, Cooking Vinyl and Domino.
"Whilst MySpace has played a role in providing access to a diverse range of Australian artists’ music, it has generated huge advertising revenue without any recompense to those from whom it has profited," commented Marcus Seal, Managing Director of Shock Group of Companies. "Shock has worked with thousands of emerging Australian artists and we’re deeply affronted at MySpace’s appalling attitude to this most creative sector of the artistic community”.
But many others in the global indie community are less willing to fight this fight and would rather take whatever share of revenue is offered. An equity share has little value, they argue, unless the company is sold. And in this climate, that appears unlikely.