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DRA Criticizes Sprint Service For Not Including Indie Artists

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Worldwide digital music distributor Digital Rights Agency has sent a letter to Sprint Nextel Corporation CEO Gary Forsee, strongly condemning the company's failure to include independent record label catalogs in its recently launched full-track download service.

Digital Rights Agency represents more than 250 leading independent labels, including exclusive digital rights for the multi-platinum Daddy Yankee title “Barrio Fino,” the Billboard #1 Latin album of 2005, and key titles by gold and platinum recording artists Chamillionaire, Lil Jon, Snoop Dogg, Death Cab for Cutie, Yellowcard, Smokey Robinson, Count Basie and many others.

“More than three months after launching the service, and after advertising on the Super Bowl and Grammy Awards, it's simply unacceptable that Sprint continues to exclude independent labels from its full-track download service,” Digital Rights Agency Managing Director Tuhin Roy said in a statement. “It's difficult to understand how Sprint will compete with services like iTunes or Verizon's Vstream, if 25% of the time, it will be unable to deliver the music than its subscribers are looking for.”

In the statement, DRA says it has attempted to initiate direct negotiations with Sprint for a license for two years, but has been repeatedly told that Sprint does not have the resources to carry independent labels. DRA states that they and several other large independent content owners including the Beggars Group and V2 Records have licensed their catalogs and delivered content to Groove Mobile, which back-ends the Sprint service.

As a result, the inclusion of thousand of independent label catalogs in the Sprint service is currently as simple as Groove Mobile 'flipping a switch.' Sprint, however, has refused to take deliveries of independent content from Groove Mobile or to negotiate direct licensing deals with independent labels, according to Digital Rights Agency. In contrast, Verizon has been extremely supportive of independent record labels and has included thousands of independent label catalogs in its Vstream service.

“Not only do independent labels represent 25% of the music sold in the United States, but they are the engine that keeps the industry vital and growing,” added Roy. “DRA's mission is to ensure that independent labels have fair access to digital music services, and we sincerely hope that Sprint will reverse its current policy of excluding the talented and popular artists represented by indie labels.” –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers