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Merlin's Member Research Reveals Indie Music's Strength In Streaming Music

AMSTERDAM (Hypebot) – Merlin, a global rights agency for indie labels, released a bunch of news late last week. In addition to information about member revenue and the results of a member survey, they released findings about indie music's role in the streaming market based on their extensive member data. They found that streaming music revenue was an increasingly important piece of the pie and that indie music outperforms on streaming services. Interestingly enough, indie music does even better on paid subscription services than on free, ad-supported services.

Merlin Doubles Collections, In Negotiations With YouTube

This year Merlin doubled its collection on behalf of members from digital services from last year, taking in $89 million, and expects it to double in the next year.

Merlin is also currently negotiating with YouTube over the licensing terms for their upcoming music streaming service. Given that Merlin represents over 20,000 indie labels and distributors including major indies like Beggars Group, they're a key player in the problematic situation with YouTube.

Merlin CEO Charles Caldas recently had strong words regarding YouTube payouts, and about streaming services more generally, so I imagine negotiations are fairly intense.

Merlin Research on Indies and Streaming Music

In addition to all that, but certainly relevant to the above news, Merlin announced findings from their member research that showed both the importance of streaming revenue for indie musicians and the importance of indie music to the streaming music industry:

  • Independent music outperforms on streaming services: usage of Merlin members music on streaming services continues to outperform their share of the wider digital market by 10-20%. The trend is even more pronounced on premium paid-for subscription tiers, where usage was almost 30% higher than on free ad-funded tiers.
  • Streaming volumes & revenues double: audio tracks by Merlin members were streamed more than 1.4bn times in April 2014 – more than double the streams reported in April 2013. Over that same period, revenues doubled to $89m.
  • Revenue projections for the next 12 months: Merlin projections show the organisation expects to pay out in excess of $160m to members in audio streaming revenues over the next year.
  • Streaming drives digital growth: for almost half of respondents, digital income now represents more than 50% of their overall business; for 1 in 5 Merlin members, streaming accounts for more than 50% of this digital income; 73% are optimistic for the future of their business.
  • In addition:

    "Repeating analysis from last year, which compared usage of Merlin members’ music on streaming services with their share of wider digital market, Merlin can reveal that independent repertoire continues to outpace the rest of the market on services like Spotify, Beats Music, Deezer and Rdio – eclipsing the independents’ market share of digital album sales by margins of between 12% and 20%, depending on label and territory."

    "Notably, this trend is even more even more pronounced on premium paid-for tiers. Drawing on an analysis of 5bn audio streams (Jan-April 2014) usage of Merlin members’repertoire was almost 30% higher when accessed on paid streaming tiers compared to free ad-funded tiers."

    Very impressive developments for the indie sector that speak to the sector's ability to outperform with stars like Adelle and a wide range of emerging, rising and career artists. Both head and middle tail, if that means anything to you!

    With stats like this and much of the indie sector in support, Merlin should have a strong base for negotiations.