In recent months, we’ve had the privilege to interview many of our members about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has impacted the music ecosystem and their businesses. Even as our resilience is being tested, our members have pivoted their businesses and found new ways to support their artists. It’s been genuinely inspiring to hear about many of their successes. This is the first installment in a series about the resiliency of our members.The Merlin Team
MEMBER SINCE 2008
!K7 General Manager Operations (COO)
- How are you responding to this global crisis?
The biggest impact our artists had was the loss of live income. In relation to this we also put a lot of album projects on hold where we needed “live” as a campaign element, especially for emerging artist campaigns, live is key.
The lockdown also led to a significant drop in physical sales due to the lack of open records shops with the result of postponing key campaigns.
- What new methods have you employed to market your music?
Some of our artists who were hit hard by the lack of touring were able to do a lot of live streams because of their home studio set-ups. We saw a good increase in their social numbers from the cross platform posting.
We have spent this time with no live advancing (in management) generating new collaborations and focusing on songwriting over performing with our artists – to great results! We have re-centred the will from music fans to pay the artist directly, via Bandcamp’s waived fee efforts and beyond. Patreon has never looked more attractive, not necessarily as the only income source, but as a top up and a truer art of engagement from some independent artists.
Livestreaming – There are many rights issues and the agreements are all over the place, and we have feared many media players just using artists without really making up for the gap in revenue or meaningful reach versus a real concert. We also have seen audience complacency at the free vs paid livestream model (“…how come everyone else does it for free but i have to pay you a fiver??”…’because I have two children to feed.’), but perhaps we can move ourselves out of this gradually – but we all have to really believe in the experience for that to work, optimise it for audiences. And between the fact it doesn’t suit all artists, and the fact it doesn’t (to me) replace the live experience and certainly not yet the live income, I’m not so hopeful long term.
- Name one big thing your company is doing this year.
We celebrate the DJ-Kicks 25th anniversary. Using the energy we have stored throughout quarantine, and the resource we have had the time to build & share, to continue bettering our approaches as a company to questions of the climate, race and equality, both within the company and within our power throughout the industry
- With the rise of social music, how are you evolving to engage fans and promote your artists?
Just have to be very fluid in how we approach our digital marketing and make sure that we get as much extra content out of more traditional longer form pieces like videos etc, making sure that we can create tailored content for each platform. Especially there is a shift from traditional media campaigns to more fan engaged platforms.
- How is Merlin meaningful to you?
Especially in these times, Merlin gives us access to new business models and the ability to test new routes to test out.
ABOUT MERLIN MERLIN MEMBER UPDATES
Merlin’s membership represents 15% of the global market share. Members consist of independent labels, distributors and other rightsholders, representing tens of thousands of labels and hundreds of thousands of artists from every country in the world. Merlin navigates the music ecosystem by striking premium deals with digital services that enable its members to better control their future. Digital services have the means to efficiently license the world’s most valuable independent music.
Merlin’s members include Amuse, Aparataje Music Group, Armada Music, AVL Group (including CD Baby and FUGA), AWAL, Beggars Group, Cinq Music Group, Curb Records, Dim Mak, DistroKid, Domino, Entertainment One, Epitaph Records, Farolatino Media Network, Foundation Media, Hopeless Records, !K7, Kontor New Media, KVZ Music, Mad Decent, mtheory, Mushroom Music, Ninja Tune, ONErpm, [PIAS], Pony Canyon, Secretly Group, Symphonic Distribution and Sub Pop.
Merlin has deals with over 30 digital services, including Alibaba, Boomplay, Deezer, Facebook/ Instagram, JioSaavn, KKBox, NetEase, Pandora, Snap, SoundCloud, Spotify, Tencent, TikTok, Triller, Yandex and YouTube Music.
Merlin has offices in New York, London and Tokyo.
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