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News May 17, 2018

Here’s to ten years of Merlin!

Here’s to ten years of Merlin!

Next week marks Merlin’s tenth birthday, and because we are good, dutiful friends, we wanted to get our happy birthdays in nice and early — and give props to Charles Caldas, the Aussie who has steered the “virtual fourth major” to the success it has achieved.

In addition, Caldas was CEO of Shock Records for years, which means he was responsible for some of the cooler CDs on your shelf, so you owe him that.

Below is a timeline of key Merlin moments they sent over, and rather than rewrite this, I decided to just republish it.

It’s quite an interesting snapshot of how quickly the music industry has changed over the past decade, and how a nimble, quick-thinking company set up like Merlin can adapt and shift with the changes. After all, it’s much harder to steer an oil tanker.


May 2008 – Over 200 independent companies join Merlin in first few months, including labels Epitaph, E1/Koch, [PIAS], Epitaph, 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 and five months later announces deal with Spotify in advance of its launch, alongside all of the major labels.

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

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.

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

January 2014 – Merlin adds it 600th member, and its first members from Nigeria, India, Greece and South Korea. Merlin now represents companies from 39 countries.

June 2015 – Merlin presents its 2015 members survey, announcing that digital is, for the first time, the main source of revenue for the majority of its members.

October 2016 – Merlin opens its Japanese office, having established its New York office exactly two years previously.

April 2017 – Merlin signs new multi-year licensing agreement with Spotify ahead of Sony and Warner, ensuring that its members will remain at the core of the streaming service’s offering.

August 2017 – Merlin announces its billionth dollar in distributions to its members since opening for business.

March 2018 – Merlin announces landmark non-exclusive partnerships with China’s five leading digital music services: NetEase Cloud Music (NetEase Cloud Music), Xiami (Ali Music Group), QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo (all Tencent Music Entertainment).

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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