Macro-Indie Publishers

by Darius Kazemi on May 5, 2008

in business,industry

What are the implications of this new mega-indie-music publisher for the video game industry?

The short of the news is that 12,000 indie record labels have joined under one banner (“Merlin”) to form a challenge to the Big Four publishers. One of the big reasons for this is so that indie labels can much more easily negotiate with iTunes and the other digital distribution networks.

Could this happen for indie games? I’m guessing not. This is an instance of a bunch of mini-publishers joining forces, and importantly they’re not being acquired by a business entity. As far as I know, it’s more of a trade group, so like the ESA represents lots of big game publishers, Merlin represents lots of little music publishers.

Indie game developers don’t have publishers or labels. If they’re the kind of indies who sell games on their own website, then they’re analogous to musicians who do the same, or sell CDs at local shows. If an indie dev goes through Steam or Xbox Live or something… this is more like a single band negotiating with iTunes, or personally pitching Wal-Mart to carry their CD. Which just doesn’t really happen.

I’m interested to learn more about Merlin and how they interact with their members, and what sort of control and power they have and choose to exert. How will they keep 12,000 member organizations happy? That’s what I want to know.


Brian Shurtleff May 6, 2008 at 12:44 am

“this is more like a single band negotiating with iTunes, or personally pitching Wal-Mart to carry their CD. Which just doesn’t really happen.”

Wal-Mart is right out, sure.
But I’ve found myself surprised before by indie-artists I’ve found on the iTunes store before.
Although, thinking about it, in both cases both artists invented their own label which sells nothing but their own music so… maybe that’s good enough for iTunes.
In any case I still personally count that as an individual artist…

Brian Shurtleff May 8, 2008 at 3:56 am

Yes, just had confirmations that anyone, anyone at all, can get themselves carried in the iTunes store. One of my friends (fellow SCAD student) just got on the iTunes store and he’s by no means a professional musician. Just an amateur hobbyist who decided to apply.

But hey, Wal-mart still works for your example… ;)

nightrise May 9, 2008 at 4:12 am

The interesting thing about indie games is – now at least – they don’t really need publishers what with Man!festo Games and Steamworks and… just the internet is general. New portals for indie developers are opening all over the place.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: