2020 has been a dynamic year of challenges, innovation, and hard work for Merlin, the independent’s digital music licensing partner. In January, Merlin welcomed Jeremy Sirota as the new CEO from his prior role as a senior executive on the Facebook Music team. Jeremy has helped to guide Merlin through a year of evolution and expansion. As a digital-only company, Merlin has not been as heavily impacted by COVID, which means it has expanded its efforts to negotiate the best deals for its members, help them navigate the ever-transforming digital music landscape, and provide them the means to maximize their relationships with digital partners.
Throughout the year, Merlin has been proud to welcome an ever-increasing number of members from around the world (such as Amuse in Sweden, Sua Música in Brazil, MAD Solutions in Nigeria, and For Life Music in Japan), close deals with new digital partners (such as Snap and Triller), and extend relationships with its existing digital partners (such as Tencent Music) that strategically expand those relationships. To meet these demands, Merlin has grown its team to provide the highest level of service to its members.
In its relentless mission to support its new and existing members, Merlin has grown its Member Relations team, adding Joseph Danher (from his previous role at Help Musicians UK), as well as Daniele Yandel (from her previous role at Sister Polygon Records) and Kwi Soo Shin (from his previous role at Live Nation Japan) starting as Member Relations/Member Operations Coordinators. These new hires will help Merlin to further meet its mission of empowering independence in its members.
Independents are relying on digital channels more than ever. Earlier this year, Merlin renamed and revamped its Business & Legal Affairs team, which reports into Charlie Lexton, Merlin’s COO. This department plays an integral role in closing more deals, being nimbler in renewing deals, and driving incremental opportunities from Merlin’s digital partnerships to its members. To drive at these metrics, Shrina Patel joined as Director (from her previous role at Universal Music Group), with Katie Eckett joining as Manager (from her previous role at Kobalt).
Clear communication, reporting, and benchmarking analyses to members has been key during this unprecedented year. Merlin was proud to welcome Selina Ali (from her previous role at AWAL) as Reporting Manager and Thomas Curtis as Reporting Assistant. Merlin’s members around the world depend on the timely delivery of accurate reports so they can understand how their artists are performing. In addition, Pavan Vasdev (from his previous role running a non-profit) recently joined to lead Strategic Initiatives for the company, with Alex Mason starting this month as Analytics Coordinator.
During this year’s increased shift into the digital realm, getting paid in a timely fashion is essential to independent artists’ success. Collecting and paying its members in a timely fashion is a core tenet of Merlin’s operations, and the organization has worked tirelessly this year to accelerate and push up the timeframes for payments. Merlin strengthened its Finance Team with Vincent Moyo, who joined as the new Head of Finance, as well as Annie England and Banita Matharoo, who joined the company as Finance Assistants. The organization was also pleased to bring on board Luke Aitkins and Apostolos Koutranos to its technology and development team in order to evolve Merlin’s platforms, including ensuring that the Merlin team has the most cutting-edge technologies to serve its members.
“The core tenet behind every decision made at Merlin is that our members’ success is our success,” said Jeremy Sirota, Merlin’s CEO. “As the music industry has become even more reliant on revenue from digital music services in this unprecedented year, Merlin has thoughtfully and strategically grown its team to expand our ability to support our members—both now and in the years to come.”