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Merlin Publishes 10th Anniversary Impact Report to Celebrate Global Success Of Its Independent Label Membership

Merlin Publishes 10th Anniversary Impact Report to Celebrate Global Success Of Its Independent Label Membership





Alice Enders, Director of Research, Enders Analysis: “ If Merlin had not been established, numerous independent labels would simply have disappeared from sight as streaming overtook purchasing.”

June 27, 2018

Merlin, the global digital rights agency for the independent label sector, is proud to present its 10th Anniversary Impact Report.

The free downloadable publication draws uniquely upon case studies and contributions from independent labels and distributors worldwide, as well as a foreword from Alice Enders (Enders Analysis), new data findings and trends from 2018’s Merlin membership survey, and testimonies from leading digital music services about Merlin’s lynchpin role in protecting the value of independent music.

The report bookmarks Merlin’s first decade in business, and seeks to better explain how the agency’s unique structure and licensing model has enabled independent labels to thrive and compete in the digital music market – as well as a greater understanding of how music streaming has transformed the commercial dynamics of recorded music, and unlocked the true value of independent repertoire in an expanding global marketplace.

Merlin now represents more than 20,000 independent labels across 55 territories. Collectively, they account for more than 12% of the global digital recorded music market.

The report, which can be downloaded here, is accompanied by a new video to celebrate Merlin’s 10th anniversary.

The headline findings include:

Record payouts. Merlin will distribute $0.5bn+ per annum to members.
Since announcing a landmark $1bn of total distributions to date last year, Merlin will distribute a further $0.5bn to members from the past 12 months collections (07/17-06/18).
Meanwhile, payouts to Merlin members have increased almost 12-fold since 2012 (April-March 2012/13 to April-March 2017/18).

Merlin members’ repertoire is the most valued online, and continues to attract paying subscribers.
An analysis of well over 500 billion streams between May 2014 and April 2018, across Merlin’s global service partners, shows that Merlin’s member repertoire performs over 25% better in market share terms on paid tiers vs free tiers.

Independent labels are making money from markets that were once of almost zero value.
42% of Merlin members report that over half their digital revenues originate from consumption outside their home territory – significantly more than those (18%) who report that for physical sales. In the space of three years (comparing April 2015 with April 2018), revenues received by Merlin from Asian markets have increased almost eightfold. Over the same period, revenues received from LATAM have increased more than tenfold.

Streams have become a torrent. Merlin reports a 36% increase in monthly data processing.
Over two-thirds (68%) of Merlin members report that audio streaming currently accounts for the majority of their digital revenues. A remarkable increase from 2014’s survey, when only 20% reported this was the case. In March 2018, the Merlin team processed an average of 14bn+ streams per month – a 36% increase on March 2017.

Despite unprecedented market change, Merlin members continue to expand their overall business.
Since we first surveyed Merlin’s membership, the vast majority reported overall business growth in the previous calendar year. This year, 74% said their total business increased in 2017- up from 66% in 2016. 78% of Merlin members reported they were optimistic about the future of their business.

Commenting on the report, Charles Caldas, CEO, Merlin, said:

“The advent of music streaming has transformed how independent labels operate, and how digital services perceive the value of our rights. 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.

“Had you asked any of our founding board members in 2008 whether they’d anticipate Merlin distributing over $500m per year, or that we’d open new global markets in Latin America, Asia and China, I suspect they’d have laughed you out of the room. But that’s where we are, and what we’re building upon. And most exciting of all, it feels like we’re only getting started.”

About Merlin:
Merlin is the global digital rights agency for the world’s independent label sector.

The organisation’s members command in excess of 12% of the digital recorded music market and embody more than 20,000 independent record labels and distributors from 55 countries and all continents.

These include Beggars Group, Secretly Group, Domino, Sub Pop, Epitaph, Anti Records, Entertainment One, Redeye Worldwide, !K7, Kobalt Music Recordings, [PIAS], Merge, Warp, INgrooves, Hopeless Records, Armada Music, Mad Decent, Ninja Tune, Eleven Seven Music, Naxos and Curb Records, representing some of the world’s most important and successful artists.

Merlin acts to ensure these companies have effective access to new and emerging revenue streams and that their rights are appropriately valued and protected.

Since commencing operations in May 2008, Merlin has licensed key digital services and has reached a number of high-value copyright infringement settlements on behalf of its members.

Merlin has won ‘Independent Champion’ at the A2IM Libera Awards three times – in 2015, 2016 and just this week!

Merlin has offices in London, New York and Tokyo, with a head office in Amsterdam.


About A2IM:
A2IM is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit trade organization headquartered in New York City that exists to support and strengthen the independent recorded music sector. Membership currently includes a broad coalition of more than 700 Independently-owned American music labels. A2IM represents these independently owned small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) interests in the marketplace, in the media, on Capitol Hill, and as part of the global music community. In doing so, it supports a key segment of America’s creative class that represents America’s diverse musical cultural heritage. Billboard Magazine identified the Independent music label sector as 37.32 percent of the music industry’s U.S. recorded music sales market in 2016 based on copyright ownership, making Independent labels collectively the largest music industry sector.

Learn more about A2IM here.
For information about how to join our community, see here.