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Merlin Announces $500m In Distributions For This Year

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AMSTERDAM, NL (Hypebot) — Merlin’s payments to its 20,000 label members has surpassed $500 million annually, according to the 10th-anniversary report just released by the global indie music licensor.  A dive into the data shows an indie sector that, by some measures, is benefiting from the streaming revolution even more than their major label counterparts.

42% of Merlin labels report that over half their digital revenues originate from consumption outside their home territory. For physical sales revenue drops to 18% of total.  And indie music fans appear not to mind paying for music. Merlin member tracks perform over 25% better in market share on paid tiers vs free tiers.

Merlin now represents more than 20,000 independent labels across 55 territories which collectively account for more than 12% of the global digital recorded music market.  In March 2018, the Merlin team processed an average of 14 billion streams per month – a 36% increase over March 2017.

Merlin 10th Anniversary from Chaida Kapfunde on Vimeo.

“The advent of music streaming has transformed how independent labels operate, and how digital services perceive the value of our rights. Where once we were fragmented, we now act in unison,” says Charles Caldas, CEO, Merlin. “Where we were treated inequitably, we sit at the head of licensing discussions. Indies are not only thriving in the new market, we are leading it.

“Had you asked any of our founding board members in 2008 whether they’d anticipate Merlin distributing over $500m per year, or that we’d open new global markets in Latin America, Asia and China, I suspect they’d have laughed you out of the room, continued Caldas. “But that’s where we are, and what we’re building upon. And most exciting of all, it feels like we’re only getting started.”

Report Highlights

Record payouts. Merlin will distribute more than $500 million yearly per annum to members.

    • Since announcing a landmark $1bn of total distributions to date last year, Merlin will distribute a further $0.5bn to members from the past 12 months collections (07/17-06/18).
    • Payouts to Merlin members have increased almost 12-fold since 2012 (April-March 2012/13 to April-March 2017/18).
  • Merlin members’ repertoire is the most valued online, and continues to attract paying subscribers.
    • An analysis of well over 500 billion streams between May 2014 and April 2018, across Merlin’s global service partners, shows that Merlin’s member repertoire performs over 25% better in market share terms on paid tiers vs free tiers.
  • Independent labels are making money from markets that were once of almost zero value.
    • 42% of Merlin members report that over half their digital revenues originate from consumption outside their home territory – significantly more than those (18%) who report that for physical sales.
    • In the space of three years (comparing April 2015 with April 2018), revenues received by Merlin from Asian markets have increased almost eightfold. Over the same period, revenues received from LATAM have increased more than tenfold.
  • Streams have become a torrent. Merlin reports a 36% increase in monthly data processing.
    • Over two-thirds (68%) of Merlin members report that audio streaming currently accounts for the majority of their digital revenues. A remarkable increase from 2014’s survey, when only 20% reported this was the case.
    • In March 2018, the Merlin team processed an average of 14bn+ streams per month – a 36% increase on March 2017.
  • Despite unprecedented market change, Merlin members continue to expand their overall business.
    • This year, 74% said their total business increased in 2017 – up from 66% in 2016. 78% of Merlin members reported they were optimistic about the future of their business.

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