The Orchard acquires two European rivals, draws critique from Merlin

The Orchard, an independent music distributor owned by Sony, has acquired two of its rivals. It has purchased German-based finetunes and Norway-based Phonofile. The labels distributed by these companies will gain access to the services provided by The Orchard, including physical sales and distribution, global digital marketing, playlist promotion, interactive marketing, digital advertising, synch licensing, video services, performance/neighboring rights collections, and artist royalty processing.

“We’re honored to welcome finetunes and Phonofile to The Orchard family. Their addition greatly enhances our local representation in two of Europe’s key digital entertainment markets,” The Orchard CEO Brad Navin said. “In joining together, we believe we have an exciting opportunity to provide even greater levels of service and global reach to our local clients.”

The news drew a quick response from Merlin, the independent label distributor and rights manager. “Merlin has long been vocal about our concerns that the majors, via their faux-indie imprints, are land-grabbing independents rights in order to bolster their market shares and use the value of those indie artists to extract disproportionate value from the market in their negotiations with digital services,” CEO Charles Caldas said. “That value flows only one way, and it is not to the indie labels and their artists who actually create that value.”

Anna Washenko