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Merlin Network

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Title: Merlin Network  
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Merlin Network

Merlin Network
Type 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
Website [1]

Merlin Network, or just Merlin, is a global rights agency charged with "representing independent music companies in enhancing the commercial exploitation of their copyrights on a global basis."[1] Merlin's mission is "to represent the world's independent music sector and act as an efficient central point of entry to the music it represents, in particular for digital, new media, and mobile rights."[2] Merlin operates on a not-for-profit basis.

Merlin membership, according to a June 2013 press release by the organization, included over 120,000 independent labels, aggregators and rights representative, with a catalogue of over three million tracks, from 35 countries. The same press release claims the group has a market share of over 10% of the global digital market.[3] It also says Merlin creates a pro-competitive efficiency enabling new music services to manageably license its members’ independent repertoire through one agency"[2]

Merlin Timeline

October 2006 – The idea for Merlin is hatched, and start-up funding for a consultancy phase provided by a set of leading independents from around the globe.

January 2007 – Official formation of Merlin, announced by world’s leading independent companies including Alison Wenham (WIN), Michel Lambot (PIAS), Tom Silverman (Tommy Boy) and Martin Mills (Beggars Group) at a Midem press conference

April 2007 – Interim board appointed, chaired by Martin Mills

August 2007 – Inaugural global board elected, chaired by Bob Frank (E1/Koch) and including representatives from all continents

January 2008 – Merlin opens for membership

May 2008 – over 200 independent companies join Merlin in first few months, including labels Epitaph, E1/Koch, PIAS, Dualtone, Saddle Creek, Domino, Beggars, Warp, Naïve, Wagram, !K7, Cooking Vinyl, Inertia and the world’s leading distributors such as Kontor New Media, Finetunes, Redeye, Thestate51consipracy and Kudos, estimates membership at around 8% of global market. With around 12,000 labels represented globally by its members, Merlin is open for business.

September 2008 – Merlin publicly criticises MySpace for launching as a joint venture with the major labels, yet without participation of Merlin

October 2008 – Merlin announces deal with Spotify in advance of its launch, alongside all of the major labels

January 2009 – Merlin signs 300th member

March 2009 – Merlin settles with Lphant peer-to-peer network via agreement with iMesh

July 2009 – Merlin strikes global video deal with Muzu.TV

September 2009 – Merlin elects second global board – adds representatives from companies such as Domino, YepRoc, Naïve and Inertia

September 2009 – Spotify publicly announces that labels on the service under the Merlin agreement represent over 10% of usage on the service[4]

November 2009 – Merlin agrees terms with MySpace

December 2009 – Membership grows to 390, collectively representing thousands of labels worldwide including companies such as Because, Armada Music, Dramatico, Victory Records and Ninja Tune

May 2010 – Merlin signs deal with Simfy, Germany’s first streaming subscription service

August 2010 – Merlin settles copyright infringement claim against Grooveshark[5]

December 2010 – Merlin membership hits 450, including Naxos, Bliss Corp, Merge Records, Made In etaly, World Circuit and Ditto

January 2011 – Merlin strikes deal with Rdio, ending a long standoff over the launch of the service without a deal with Merlin and the labels it represents.[6]

January 2011 – Merlin agrees deal for launch of Sony’s Music Unlimited service

April 2011 – Merlin leads class settlement of copyright infringement claim against XM Satellite Radio over Inno device[7]

May 2011 – Merlin releases results of market analysis showing members’ artists, including Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, Bliss n Esso, Tom Dice, Motorpsycho, Yolanda Be Cool and Agnes Obel, achieving No.1 chart successes in territories across the globe, and highlighting the significantly better performance of its members in the digital market than in the physical market[8]

August 2011 – Merlin elects new board - adds members from companies including Epitaph, E1, Domino, Phonofile and Altafonte.

October 2011 – Merlin strikes an agreement with YouTube, giving its members the opportunity to monetise their content on the platform.[9]

October 2011 – Merlin strikes deal with Cricket Communications for its Muve Music service, as well as with US streaming service, Slacker

October 2011 – Merlin licenses Google Play store and appears alongside Universal and EMI at the Los Angeles press conference announcing the service

December 2011 – Merlin membership grows to 518 independent labels and distributors, collectively representing over 2.5m tracks and 14,000 labels, including Harmonia Mundi, Playground, Wind-up, Altafonte and Sub Pop.

February 2012 – Merlin announces landmark multi-million dollar settlement with LimeWire, the first time independents have participated in a settlement of copyright infringement claims against a global peer-to-peer service at this level[10]

May 2012 – Merlin and Deezer agree license terms for the global rollout of the service[11]

July 2012 – Merlin board votes unanimously to oppose UMG-EMI merger

September 2012 – Merlin reacts publicly to the limited EC approval of UMG-EMI transaction[12]

February 2013 – Merlin, IMPALA and Warner announce deal to strengthen independent sector in a post-merger market[13]

February 2013 – Fast Company magazine names Merlin as fifth most innovative company in the global music industry[14]

March 2013 - IMPALA annual outstanding contribution award goes to Merlin CEO Charles Caldas[15]

May 2013 – Merlin publishes results of its global member survey, showing its members thriving in the digital market[16]

External links

  • Merlin web site


  1. ^ "Merlin home page". Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  2. ^ a b "Global Rights Body for Independent Music Grows to 8% Share of US Market" (Press release). Merlin. June 11, 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  3. ^ Merlin Turns 5; Membership Numbers And Catalogue Value Continue To Show Substantial Growth
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  14. ^ The World's Top 10 Companies in Music -
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