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Indie Rights Agency, Merlin, Names Interim Board In Hopes Of Working A Little Magic

LONDON (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Merlin, the global new-media rights licensing agency for the independent record sector, and artists (White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys, Tom Waits, De La Soul and Cat Power to name a few) has appointed an interim board.

Charles Caldas, Merlin's CEO, unveiled the new team and the interim board members were nominated by international music trade bodies the World Independent Network (WIN), American Assn. of Independent Music (A2IM), and European Independent Music Companies Assn. (IMPALA). They are:

– Tom Silverman, chairman and CEO, Tommy Boy Records (U.S.), board member A2IM
– Glen A. Barros, president and CEO, Concord Music Group Inc. (U.S.)

– Martin Mills, chairman, Beggars Group (U.K.), chairman, IMPALA
– Michel Lambot, co-president, PIAS (Belgium)
– Horst Weidenmueller, CEO, !K7 Records (Germany), vice-president, IMPALA

Rest of World
– Takashi Kamide, senior adviser, MS Entertainment (Japan)
– Mark Kneebone, Tardus Music (New Zealand), chairman, IMNZ (Independent
Music Trade Body, New Zealand)

– Alison Wenham, president, WIN, chairman and CEO, AIM (Association of
Independent Music, U.K.)
– Charles Caldas, CEO, Merlin (formerly CEO Shock Entertainment Group,

The board will be tasked with fast-tracking the new operation by establishing a constitution and initial operations, as well as appointing core staff. A full sitting board will then be elected, and the interim board disbanded.

Caldas will leave Melbourne to work at the London-based agency on April 23.

"We have here a great group of experienced professionals from a broad range of territories, whose collective dedication will ensure Merlin is incorporated and fully operational in the shortest time possible," said Caldas in a statement. "This heralds a new chapter for independents around the world. We are on a unique journey to license collectively the individually unlicensable – and together we are bigger than the largest major,"

The independent community have created the non-profit Merlin to function as a one-stop digital-rights licensing shop. It replaces the need for individually-brokered deals and aims to provide independents with the same clout as the majors when negotiating to have their repertoire used on international digital services.

Merlin was announced at Midem 2007 (see CelebrityAccess article Jan. 22, 2007 Indie Labels Pool Music Catalog In Digital Challenge To Majors). The agency used the trade fair to unveil its first deal — a tie-up with the digital music company SNOCAP for their MyStore initiative, which enabled independent artists to sell tracks via sites such as MySpace.

Its mission is to act as a single point-of-contact for indie licenses replacing countless individually brokered deals creating a more level playing field with majors. Thus far only the deal with SnoCap had been announced and talks with YouTube and others have yet come to fruition.