Merlin, the independent label group and global digital rights agency, has released its 10th anniversary Impact Report. The analysis shows that Merlin will make record-high payouts of $500 million in the next 12 months, a record that’s all the more impressive considering it just reached a cumulative $1 billion in distributions last year.
The report included positive trends for indie labels and artists in the streaming ecosystem. Audio streaming is the majority of digital revenue for 68% of Merlin members, compared with just 20% in 2014. Nearly the same amount (69%) said digital revenue is the bulk of their overall business income. Merlin has also increased its volume of stream processing, up 36% on-year to more than 14 billion streams per month. The data found that Merlin repertoire performs more than 25% better in market share terms on paid platforms compared with free ones.
“The advent of music streaming has transformed how independent labels operate, and how digital services perceive the value of our rights,” Merlin CEO Charles Caldas said. “Where once we were fragmented, we now act in unison. Where we were treated inequitably, we sit at the head of licensing discussions. Indies are not only thriving in the new market, we are leading it. This situation hasn’t occurred by accident and Merlin has, I believe, played a significant role in our progress. I certainly hope this Impact Report provides at least some flavour of what we’ve achieved in the past decade and a trajectory of where we’re heading.”
The Impact Report pointed to video streams as an area for improvement. Since 2014, a steady majority of Merlin members have reported that video streaming accounts for less than 25% of their digital revenue. For the 2018 report, 82% of members gave that response.