Pandora inked its first direct record-label deal thanks to its new partnership with Merlin. Under this arrangement, Pandora will negotiate its payments directly with the independent rights group for the music Merlin represents rather than paying the Copyright Royalty Board’s statutory rates. Although the deal will operate outside the statutory licensing framework, Pandora will still use SoundExchange to pay artists’ royalties. Leaders for both Pandora and Merlin said the deal would not mean less money for artists, although financial details were not disclosed in the press release.
Both parties will have more than a good deal to gain from the arrangement. Pandora will get the benefit of a closer relationship with the music industry, learning more about Merlin’s artists and labels. The company said this bond should improve its abilities to pick songs that its listeners will enjoy. On the other hand, Merlin will have access to customized metadata and listener activity from the streaming platform. Its artists will also be given channels to directly engage with their fans, although Pandora hasn’t detailed what that system will look like.