Charles Caldas, CEO of global digital rights agency for the independent label sector Merlin, took home the Indie Champion award in recognition of his work for Merlin’s members worldwide. Caldas built Merlin from an idea into the globally recognised entity it is today, striking landmark deals with the world’s leading digital music platforms, including Spotify, YouTube Music, Deezer, NetEase, Alibaba, Tencent and Facebook. During his 12 years as CEO, Merlin’s membership has grown to include over 850 members in 63 countries; embodying more than 20,000 independent record labels and distributors, who command in excess of 14% of the digital recorded music market. Previous winners have included Warp co-founder Steve Beckett, XL Recordings’ Richard Russell and NTS founder Femi Adeyemi.
On being named Indie Champion, Caldas said “Working on behalf of so many members of AIM, alongside their global Merlin member compatriots, has been a privilege. To have that work recognised in this way by an organisation that has been such a trailblazer in advocating for UK independents and such an important and valued supporter of Merlin since its launch, is humbling, and a true honour.”