Global Rights Body Merlin Opens Doors To World’s Independents - Merlin

Global Rights Body Merlin Opens Doors To World’s Independents

  • All Independent Labels, Distributors And Aggregators Invited To Join
  • Former EMI Europe Business Affairs Head Charlie Lexton Engaged

Merlin, the world’s first global rights body for independents, today opened its doors to label, distributor and aggregator members across the world.

Within the coming days membership documents will be circulated via the global network of national trade bodies, enabling them to join an organisation created by the global independent community to guarantee open and equitable access to new and emerging revenue streams for its members.

Membership is free and open to all master rights holders that control at least half their equity and claim no more than a 5% global music market share. A not-for-profit agency, Merlin will represent members’ master rights on a non-exclusive basis, outside of the space occupied by aggregators, distributors and collecting societies.

Merlin will instead focus on the negotiation, protection and facilitation of licensing in instances where independents are being discriminated against, their copyrights are being undervalued or infringed, or where deals can’t be easily accessed or negotiated locally or individually. The board have shortlisted a number of target services, details of which will be announced in due course.

Separately, Merlin have engaged the services of Charlie Lexton as in-house Business Affairs advisor. As former Head of Business Affairs for EMI Europe, Charlie has extensive knowledge of digital distribution and the global music marketplace. Since leaving EMI he has established his own artist management company, and will continue to represent the likes of The Sunshine Underground while assuming his new duties.

Further to incorporation and the establishment of Merlin’s permanent board in September, today’s announcements follow months of diligent work with KPMG (on robust structure and governance), antitrust attorneys in the USA and Europe (on competition law compliance and regulatory processes) and in wide consultation with the global independent community on the parameters of its operation and scope of the membership agreement.

“This board has worked incredibly hard to make Merlin a reality, and I’m confident that the organisation we have built is solid, powerful and long-lasting. Merlin will be a vital force in ensuring independents are better able to compete and protect their rights in the future.”

Merlin CEO Charles Caldas

“This is an exciting time for Merlin, as we not only work to protect our rights, but also to create new revenue streams in the ever-shifting sands of the music business.

Merlin Chairman Bob Frank (President Koch Records, USA)

Speaking on his new role, Merlin Business Affairs advisor Charlie Lexton said:

“It was impossible to resist the opportunity to become involved with an organisation like Merlin. Creative and constructive negotiation with new media providers is absolutely essential, both for the independent sector and the wider industry, and the quality of labels and number of territories involved in this project is extremely impressive.”

About Merlin

Merlin’s remit is to represent the global independent sector (which collectively accounts for 80% of the world’s new releases and a 27.5% share of the global music market*) to ensure that it has open and equal access to new and emerging revenue streams, particularly where independents are being discriminated against, or offers can’t be easily received locally or individually by independents.

Merlin will improve access with new and emerging media, rectifying the ‘poor cousin’ status previously felt by independents. Operating outside the space occupied by Collecting Societies and distributors, Merlin will redress the growing assumption that, for emerging media, only the four majors need to be licensed, with the rest free to air.

A multi-national initiative in the truest sense, Merlin has already been ratified by the World Independent Network (WIN), a global trade body with trade association members from around the world, IMPALA (European Independent Music Companies Association), UK (AIM), France (UPFI), Canada (CIRPA) Germany (VUT), Norway, Japan (ILCJ), Sweden (SOM), Brazil, (ABMI) Spain (UFI), New Zealand (IMNZ) and Australia (AIR) as well as marquee labels including The Beggars Group, Edel, Domino, !K7, [PIAS] and members of the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) including Alligator, Century Media, Concord, Kill Rock Stars, and Koch, as well as a string of distributors and aggregators around the globe.

Merlin is a sister organisation to WIN, and was incubated by WIN as its first major global project. Merlin will operate as a stand-alone non-profit company owned by its members and based in The Netherlands and London.

Independent sector global market share 2005 is 27.5%, source Music & Copyright, Jul 2007. 80% of releases stat based on an amalgamation of Nielsen Soundscan figures (2005: 81.65% of total US releases were independent) and BPI figures (2005: 83% of total UK releases were independent).

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