The booze flowed freely in New York last week at the Libera Awards, a three-year-old alternative Grammys for the world of independent music, as awards went to prestige indie acts like Arcade Fire and Arctic Monkeys and executives at small labels congratulated one another about what a great year it was for their music.
But despite the celebratory atmosphere, anxiety about competition and fairness in the digital marketplace runs deep in the independent sector of the music industry. Small labels complain that consolidation by the major record companies has left them squeezed in negotiations with the online music services that now account for a majority of their revenue.
Executives and advocates for the indies say they are vulnerable to strong-arm tactics by Internet giants like YouTube, which has recently threatened to block some labels’ videos unless they sign new licensing deals. Like the standoff between Amazon and the book publisher Hachette, the dispute has crystallized a fear that access to the online marketplace controlled by a few has become a privilege affordable only by the biggest and richest players.
Read more at New York Times.