Merlin reaches milestone $1B label distributions as market transitions to streaming

Global label agency Merlin has announced reaching a milepost of $1-billion dollars or rights payments distributed to member labels. Merlin licenses on behalf of 20,000+ indie labels in 53 countries. The global rights organization calls its representation footprint “the largest basket of rights outside of the three major labels.”

Merlin licenses at least 20 digital music services, including obvious majors Deezer, Google Play, iHeartRadio, SoundCloud, YouTube Red, Pandora, and Vevo. Its first deal was as a launch partner to Spotify when that behemoth started in 2008. Merlin renewed its Spotify license as a multiyear deal in April.

The participation of streaming in Merlin’s distribution generally follows the revenue curve of the U.S. music industry. forty-two percent of Merlin member labels report that over half their distributed revenue comes from streaming. (The RIAA reported that U.S. income to the recording industry exceeded 50% for the first time in 2016 — a watershed moment in the progress of streaming and its repute as a scaled revenue driver.)

“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,” said Charles Caldas, CEO of Merlin. “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.”


Brad Hill