GLOBAL - INDEPENDENT - DIGITAL

SXSW 2018: Merlin to reveal global consumption boom for independent record labels

15 March, 2018

Merlin’s 2017 Latin American earnings increase five-fold in three years – US member labels see streaming revenues from LATAM territories almost double as a percentage of their business

Brazil is now the 6th biggest-earning territory for Merlin’s independent label members – ahead of France, Australia and Canada

Merlin CEO Charles Caldas to be interviewed on 10 years of Merlin at SXSW today by Wall St Journal’s Anne Steele

 

Thursday March 15th 2018 – SXSW, Austin, Texas

At a SXSW interview looking at the market 10 years on from the foundation of Merlin, the global digital rights agency for the independent label sector, will today unveil new data to highlight the continuing global consumption boom of independent music. This will show how audio streaming uptake in territories as diverse as Brazil, Mexico, Chile, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia is unlocking new opportunities for Merlin members.

This is particularly pronounced across Latin American territories where, in the three years since January 2015, earnings to Merlin members increased five-fold – outpacing the pace of growth in more mature markets such as North America, the UK and Europe. In that period, Merlin’s US-based labels have seen the Latin American share of their global streaming business almost double.

Brazil, a market which was once overrun with music piracy, is now Merlin’s 6th biggest-earning territory – ahead of France, Australia and Canada. Argentina, Mexico and Chile are also among Merlin’s top-20 highest earning territories.

At current rates of growth, Merlin expects to generate over $60m in revenues in 2018 across its audio streaming service partners in Latin America, with US-based members representing around 50% of those earnings.

Charles Caldas, Merlin CEO, will explore these changing market dynamics and the implications for independent record labels during a wide-reaching interview this afternoon at SXSW with Anne Steele of the Wall St Journal. More information here

Evidence suggests streaming is unlocking new or previously inaccessible global revenues. In Merlin’s most recent membership survey, 42% of independent labels said that over half their digital revenue originated from consumption outside their home territory. By comparison, only 17% stated this was the case for physical sales, of CD or vinyl. Audio streaming accounts for the bulk of digital revenue for two-thirds of Merlin members.

Charles Caldas, CEO, Merlin said: 

“Merlin’s independent record label members already occupy a unique position on streaming services, with their repertoire consistently over-indexing on subscription tiers compared to free ad-supported ones. Users of these services deeply engage with Merlin members' music, and are willing to pay for it.

“We now have irrefutable evidence that the new dynamics of streaming are opening up previously inaccessible territories to independent music, with a phenomenal consumption surge in Latin America and across Asia. What feels particularly exciting is that we’re only at the start of this growth trajectory – and with potential of relatively untapped markets, including China, Russia and Africa, still to be realised.” 

Opening for business in May 2008, Merlin acts collectively on behalf of more than 20,000 independent record labels and distributors from 53 countries. The organisation offers negotiating parity with the largest major music corporations, while enabling new-generation digital services to license – via a single global deal – music from the world’s most important, unique and successful artists. Merlin’s 800-strong membership commands in excess of 12% of the global digital recorded music market.  

Since 2012/13, total revenue distributions to Merlin’s independent label members have increased eightfold. Last August, Merlin revealed that over a billion dollars had been paid out to members since 2008.  

In April 2017, Merlin announced a new multi-year global licence agreement with Spotify, and the agency has agreed partnerships with over 20 digital music services – including Deezer, Google Play, iHeartRadio, SoundCloud, YouTube Red, Pandora, Vevo and KKBOX.

Merlin’s unique global approach is reflected in the organisation’s structure, with its 15-strong member-elected board drawn equally from North America, Europe and Rest of the World. Merlin is owned and controlled by a not-for-profit foundation, ensuring that members receive the full benefits of Merlin’s activities at the lowest possible cost.