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Merlin Network

Merlin Network is the global digital rights agency for the world's independent label sector, with a membership accounting for more than 12% of the global recorded music market.[1] It was established to allow digital services the opportunity to globally license – via a single deal, instead of hundreds of individual local deals – commercially successful independent music labels from across the world.[2]

Merlin Network
Non-profit
Traded as Merlin Network B.V
Industry Digital Licensing
Founded 2008
Headquarters The Netherlands/United Kingdom
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Charles Caldas
(CEO)
Services Digital Music Licensing
Website www.merlinnetwork.org

Launched in 2007, after the appointment of current chief executive Charles Caldas, the organisation now has over 700 members from 42 countries.[3] It also represents more than 20,000 independent labels and aggregators worldwide, including Beggars Group, Amadea Music,Domino, Epitaph Records, !K7, Kobalt Label Services, Marquee Music Group, Merge Records, Ninja Tune, PIAS, Secretly Group, Terrabyte Studios, Symphonic Distribution, Phonofile, Sub Pop, The state51 Conspiracy, AWAL, CD Baby, Vohnic Music LLC, Artists Network Revolution, Spare Music, and Warp.[4]

On their behalf, Merlin has licensed to digital services including Facebook, SoundCloud, YouTube Red, Spotify, Pandora Music, Google Play, Deezer, Vevo, KKBOX and Guvera, and reached copyright infringement settlements with, among others, Limewire, XM Satellite Radio and Grooveshark.[5] In March 2018,[6] Merlin has partnered with popular Chinese Services NetEase, Alibaba and Tencent.

The organisation operates on a non-exclusive basis, and its stated remit is to “enhance the value of our members rights in deals that cannot be easily negotiated locally or individually, or are not covered adequately by existing arrangements.”[7]

Merlin is owned and controlled by a not-for-profit foundation, supervised by a member-elected board of 15 individuals - five each from North America, Europe and Rest of the World.[8] The current chairman is Epitaph Records SVP Business Development Dave Hansen.[9]

In February 2013, Merlin and IMPALA signed an agreement with Warner Music Group, right after it acquired Parlophone, to transfer 30% of that label's value to Merlin and IMPALA members. The divestment ended on September 30, 2017.[10]

Merlin has been recognised by the music and technology sectors.[11] The organisation was named ‘Independent Champion’ at both the 2015 and 2016 A2IM Libera Awards,[12] while CEO Charles Caldas received the IMPALA annual outstanding contribution award in 2013.[13]

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