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SoundCloud signs licensing deal with Merlin

By | Published on Friday 5 June 2015


It’s BBC Music Day everybody! Yes, BBC Music Day. All day. A whole day of music. As instituted by the British Broadcasting Corporation. And those of you who questioned yet more licence fee money being pumped into a pointless vanity project for BBC music chiefs, take note…

The world of music was so inspired by this, Friday 5 Jun, being an official a day of music, that the indie labels and big bad SoundCloud called a truce, had a good old game of football in the mud, and then signed a treaty for future collaboration. I just hope the indie label chiefs now heading to Cannes for MIDEM remember to clean their shoes first.

So yes, SoundCloud has made another step towards its dream of becoming a licensed music platform, rather than just an audio storage service for content owners, by announcing a deal with Merlin, the global digital rights group that represents over 20,000 indie labels and distributors around the world, including many of the bigger independents.

The deal provides a framework via which Merlin-affiliated labels can start to monetise their content on the SoundCloud platform. And while Merlin deals are optional for member labels, word has it there is considerable enthusiasm in the indie community for this particular arrangement.

Which is notable, because it wasn’t just the majors which had become critical of SoundCloud in recent years, with execs at various indies dissing the digital firm for taking far too long to engage with the labels, all the time building up a massive community of users with a plethora of tracks and mixes uploaded without the copyright owners permission.

Though – as with YouTube – while the labels are increasingly down on those user-upload services that operate ‘opt-out’ rather than ‘opt-in’ streaming platforms, the labels couldn’t ignore the fact that massive community makes SoundCloud a valuable marketing channel, and a content distribution network that is popular with opinion formers and decision makers like journalists, DJs, bookers and A&Rs.

Confirming its deal with SoundCloud yesterday, Merlin said its members would now “have access to a full range of reporting and content management tools and, by joining On SoundCloud – SoundCloud’s new creator partner programme – an opportunity to unlock new revenues, triggering monetisation of their own uploads to the SoundCloud platform, in addition to those posted by SoundCloud users. The agreement will also cover involvement in SoundCloud’s forthcoming subscription service – a unique offering, due to launch in 2015”.

Meanwhile Merlin chief Charles Caldas added: “The independent label community has long embraced SoundCloud as an innovative marketing and discovery platform, and Merlin is pleased to partner with the service at the next exciting stage of its evolution. Our deal significantly extends this existing relationship, and ensures Merlin members can participate fully in the long term value of SoundCloud’s future”.

For his part SoundCloud boss Alexander Ljung, who has been working extra hard of late to convince music rights owners that, whatever past gripes they might have, his v2 business model offers revenue as well as promotional opportunities, said: “I’m excited to announce our largest independent label partnership to date with Merlin, the global rights agency for the independent label sector. Independent creators have always been at the core of SoundCloud and with this partnership we’re thrilled to extend new revenue generating opportunities to thousands of independent labels”.

While Universal and Sony are yet to join the party, Merlin joins Warner in announcing a formal partnership with SoundCloud. And all because the BBC was clever enough to declare today the day for all things music.