Europe's independent labels this morning announced plans to appeal against the Sony/BMG merger.

The groups, including members of AIM and IMPALA, have protested against the tie-up in the past, arguing that the combined firms would have too much power over all aspects of the music industry.

Apple also stood up against the deal, warning that Sony/BMG would exercise too much power in the digital music market.

Despite the opposition, European Commission regulators decided to approve the merger on July 19 - but waited until September 23 to notify parties that disagreed with the move.

Cooking Vinyl MD, Martin Goldschmidt, said: "I find it amazing that the Commission doesn’t consider five companies becoming four with a worldwide market share of 80 per cent to be oligopolistist practices."

Indie labels fighting fund

Independent labels across Europe voted "overwhelmingly" to appeal against the merger proposals, setting up a fund to fight the decision.

"The independents want to address the market imbalance and play their part in establishing a fair and competitive marketplace," they said in a combined statement.

They argue that concentrating market power into a small number of companies is detrimental to emerging new artists, combats choice and diversity and reduces the opportunities available for small and medium sized businesses to access the market.

During its investigation into the merger, the EC recognised that the independent labels are marginalized by the existing system, yet chose to back the merger. The independent labels said this decision flies in the face of the EC's responsibility to "promote competition, consumer choice and diversity".

Majors enjoy unfair advantage

Chrysalis Music CEO, Jeremy Lascelles, said: "If the collective muscle of an oversized major is used to deny the independents fair or equal access to media and retail, then we have a genuine problem that needs to be addressed immediately."

AIM CEO and IMPALA vice president, Alison Wenham, said: "We have taken this unprecedented step for what we believe to be the long term health of the entire music industry and all its stakeholders."

'Diversity, not entropy'

IMPALA president Michel Lambot said: "This is about protecting European as well as worldwide cultural diversity and self-determination in a world where globalization means Hollywood. The news coming in today from the US elections affirms our decision that we need to make a stance against US dominance of our cultural, political and economic interests."

Wenham warned of a bleak, homogenised future for music and entertainment: "The threat of a duopoly operating in the [music] business without any real constraints is too great for any serious company or sector to ignore. The independents deserved better from the EU, and it is our intention to ensure that the facts of our case are properly respected."

"We will fight to ensure this flawed decision is overturned".