Business News Labels & Publishers

Merlin royalty distributions pass a billion dollars

By | Published on Tuesday 29 August 2017


Indie-label repping digital rights agency Merlin this weekend confirmed it had now distributed over a billion dollars to the independent record labels and music distributors it represents in the digital market.

Merlin was launched in May 2008, mainly to secure the indie label sector more parity with the majors when it came to negotiating licensing deals with the digital platforms, which had always had a tendency to do their major label deals first, and then send indies a template arrangement that lacked many of the kickbacks offered to Sony, Universal and Warner.

As it bragged its billionth dollar in distributed digital income, Merlin noted that “since agreeing our first commercial partnership in September 2008 as a launch partner to Spotify, Merlin has now licensed more than 20 digital music services – including Deezer, Google Play, iHeartRadio, SoundCloud, YouTube Red, Pandora, Vevo and KKBOX”.

For labels represented by Merlin, income generated by the digital rights agency is becoming ever more significant – of course – as the streaming boom continues, and subscription streaming becomes the single biggest revenue stream for the recorded music market.

With the notable exception of Apple – which simply added streams to the existing iTunes deals that pre-date the organisation – Merlin agrees terms and processes royalties on behalf of its members with most of the market-leading streaming platforms worldwide.

Commenting on the billion dollar landmark, Merlin boss Charles Caldas said: “It makes me immensely proud to reach this landmark. Like all the best independent labels, Merlin is run with passion, as a lean and efficient operation – albeit with an extensive and profound global responsibility. Our unique structure has empowered Merlin’s members to sit centre stage in the streaming market, while enabling digital music services to capitalise on the immense consumer demand for independent music”.

Caldas added: “Even more inspiring is that this billion dollars in revenues comes only from the new-generation services that have launched since we did. In a market still in its early stages of evolution, the more significant growth is arguably yet to come”.