- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 19, 2011

BROADENING SITE: As YouTube continues to expand as a music destination, it’s making itself more welcoming to independent labels and musicians.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: A new feature called Merch Store allows users to purchase fan merchandise directly on an artist’s YouTube channel. YouTube is also announcing a long-awaited deal with global rights agency Merlin, which represents some 14,000 independent labels.

WHY IT’S SIGNIFICANT: YouTube has been very good to bedroom singers, who have found a quick path to fame, and major labels, which have benefited from some of the largest digital audiences for their top music videos. But the middle tier _ hundreds of independent labels and their deep rosters of bands _ has sometimes been marginalized.