|Services||Digital music licensing|
Merlin is a digital rights music licensing partner for independent record labels, distributors, and other music rights holders around the world. It was founded in 2007 with Charles Caldas as the chief executive. In January 2020, Jeremy Sirota stepped into the role of Merlin CEO. The company is a member-based organization representing the digital licensing rights for tens of thousands of independent labels and distributors in nearly every country around the globe. As of 2019, Merlin has paid out over two billion dollars.
Merlin was launched in early 2007 at the Marché International du Disque et de l'Edition Musicale in Cannes. The company was founded by Alison Wenham (WIN), Michel Lambot [PIAS], Tom Silverman (Tommy Boy) and Martin Mills (Beggars Group); Charles Caldas was the first chief executive. The organization's first commercial deal was a 2008 license with Spotify as one of the then-regional streaming service's original licensing partners.
The company has negotiated settlements for copyright infringement with distributors such as Grooveshark, Limewire and XM Satellite Radio. Its content has been distributed through TikTok, Facebook/Instagram, Deezer, Pandora Music, SoundCloud, Spotify, Vevo, YouTube Premium and other services.
In February 2013, Merlin and IMPALA signed an agreement with Warner Music Group after it acquired Parlophone, to transfer 30% of that label's value to Merlin and IMPALA members. The divestment ended with the transfer of rights to the independent sector.
In 2016, Merlin opened an office in Tokyo, Japan, to expand its global operations.
In March 2018 the company entered into agreements with the three Chinese streaming services – NetEase, Alibaba, and Tencent – for digital music distribution in China. In May 2018, the company sold all of its Spotify shares for an estimated $125 million-plus, passing the proceeds on to its members. A landmark global licensing deal in December 2019 saw Merlin partnering with Boomplay Music.
In January 2021, Merlin held a "Celebrate Music" event. At the event, it unveiled a new brand, a new logo, and an updated website.
In August 2021, Feed Media Group, the B2B music licensing subscription service, signed a music licensing deal with Merlin, for its Adaptr product. Adaptr is a subscription-based platform. The deal provides access to a catalog of licensed music from Merlin member labels, distributors, and their artists.
In September 2021, Merlin and South Asian music and audio streaming service JioSaavn announced that they had extended and enhanced an existing music licensing partnership. The expanded partnership enabled Merlin’s membership to increase their presence in South Asia and expanded JioSaavn’s catalog offering to its worldwide audience.
Merlin added to its list of partners in October 2021 when it announced a deal with TREBEL, the maker of a licensed music app with on-demand and offline play sponsored by brand advertisers. The company ended the year by announcing an expanded licensing agreement with African music streaming service Boomplay.
In January 2022, Merlin partnered with UK-based Lickd to allow creators to legally use Merlin members' music in their YouTube videos.
As of January 2022, Merlin's executive team is:
- Jeremy Sirota, CEO
- Charlie Lexton, COO
- Helen Alexander, CFO
- Jim Mahoney, SVP, Member & Partner Success
The current Board was elected in 2022 and is composed of:
- Pascal Bittard, Owner, IDOL
- Marie Clausen, Head of NA and Global Streaming, Ninja Tune
- Tom Deakin, Head of EMEA, AudioSalad
- Michel Lambot, Co-founder, [PIAS]
- Chris Maund, COO, Mushroom Labels
- Carlos Mills, Founder & CEO, Mills Records
- Martin Mills; Founder & Chairman, Beggars Group
- Sandra Ortega, Director of Global Partnerships, Altafonte
- Louis Posen, President & Executive Director, Hopeless Records
- Jason Taylor, Director of Sales & Label Relations, Redeye
- Michael Ugwu, CEO, Freeme Digital
- Darius Van Arman, Co-CEO of Secretly Group (Appointed as Chairman of Merlin's Board for 2022)
- Pieter van Rijn, CEO, FUGA
- Horst Weidenmüller, CEO & Owner, !K7
- Justin West, President & CEO, Secret City
- Yushi Yamashita, President, RightsScale
Advisory Board Members:
- Katie Alberts, COO, Reach Records
- Glen Barros, Managing Partner, Exceleration Music
- Rachel Buswell, Head of Digital Partnerships and Analytics, Domino
- Jennifer Newman Sharpe, GC and Head of Business Affairs, ONErpm
- [s.n.] (15 March 2018). Merlin Network strikes streaming deals for independent music in China. BBC News. Accessed February 2019.
- "Castro Music Ltd". Castro Music. 19 September 2021.
- "Merlin Appoints Facebook's Jeremy Sirota as CEO". Billboard. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "No. 81: Charles Caldas | Power 100". Billboard. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- Sanchez, Daniel (19 June 2019). "Merlin Pays Out $845 Million to Labels and Distributor Members in 2018, Reaching Over $2 Billion in Payouts". Digital Music News. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Merlin Turns 5". Merlin. 16 July 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- correspondent, Katie Allen, media business (22 January 2007). "Indie music labels join together to grab a slice of online revenues". the Guardian. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Merlin Announces 20 Percent Price Cut For Members". Billboard. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- Ugwu, Reggie. "Warner Music Working With Impala, Merlin to Sell Parlophone Assets to Indies". Billboard.com. Archived from the original on 28 July 2019. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- "Merlin Opens Japanese Office to Expand Global Operations". Merlin. 10 October 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- Variety Staff; Staff, Variety (14 May 2018). "Merlin Sells All of Its Spotify Shares for an Estimated $125 Million-Plus". Variety. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Boomplay And Merlin Bring the World's Best Independent Music to Africa". Merlin. 10 December 2019. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- LeBlanc, Larry (3 September 2021). "Interview: Merlin CEO Jeremy Sirota". CelebrityAccess. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
- "Snap strikes deals for licensed music in Snapchat app". Retrieved 23 September 2021.
- "Merlin Unveils Brand 'Refresh' With New Logo, Website, 'Celebrate Music' Event". Billboard. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Adaptr platform agrees licensing deal with Merlin". www.musicweek.com. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
- "Merlin Renews Licensing Deal With India's JioSaavn". Billboard. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
- "Merlin strikes strategic partnership with free music streaming app TREBEL". Music Business Worldwide. 28 October 2021. Retrieved 29 October 2021.
- "Music service Boomplay and Merlin expand licensing deal to 47 countries across Africa". Music Business Worldwide. 21 December 2021. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
- "Merlin inks multi-year deal with music licensing platform Lickd". Music Business Worldwide. 13 January 2022. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
- Aswad, Jem; Aswad, Jem (11 January 2022). "Merlin Unveils New Board of Directors, With Nine First-Time Members". Variety. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
- "Darius Van Arman named Chairperson of Merlin, as indie label agency elects new Board". Music Business Worldwide. 11 January 2022. Retrieved 20 January 2022.