GLOBAL - INDEPENDENT - DIGITAL

Ten years: Merlin expands global team and celebrates a decade of growth

24 May, 2018

- Marta de la Hoz, Chaida Kapfunde and Quentin Martins will extend the level of service and expertise offered to Merlin's independent label members   

- 2017 saw highest influx of new members.

Today, 24th May 2018, Merlin celebrates its tenth anniversary as global digital rights agency for the independent label sector with the announcement of three key new hires; Marta de la Hoz joins as Head of Reporting, Chaida Kapfunde as Head of Technology & Development, and Quentin Martins as Member Operations Manager.  

 

This expands the Merlin team to a total of 21 staff, working across offices in Amsterdam, London, New York and Tokyo. 

 

Opening for business in May 2008, when the team consisted of 3 staff, Merlin now services a growing global membership representing tens of thousands of independent record labels across 53 countries - equivalent to more than a 12% share of the global digital recorded music market. In August last year, Merlin announced it’s billionth dollar in distributions. 

 

Marta joins from IronGroup, and previously managed the UK royalties team at [PIAS]. She will oversee the integration, processing and analysis of reporting from DSPs to Merlin member labels. Chaida, formerly EMEA Program Manager at video advertising software company Videology, will oversee Merlin’s IT infrastructure, as well as leading product development across Merlin’s internal software platforms. Both will report to Chief Financial Officer, Helen Alexander. 

 

Meanwhile, with experience at [PIAS], Full Time Hobby, Hassel Records and Phoenix Music International, Quentin will work within the Member operations team alongside Head of Member Operations, Chris Tarbet, advising and assisting members on maximising the value of their participation in Merlin’s key DSP agreements.

 

All will boost the level of service and expertise offered across the team at a time of significant membership growth, with 2017 witnessing the highest influx of new members joining the agency since its inaugural year. In percentage terms, Japan represented the fastest growing territory of new members, and is now Merlin’s fifth largest source of members. This follows the opening of Merlin’s Tokyo office in October 2016.

 

The agency plans to reveal further insights around its achievements next month, to coincide with A2IM’s Indie Week (June 18th-21st). 

 

Adding to a wide range of existing global DSP partnerships, Merlin recently signed landmark non-exclusive licensing agreements in China, as well as its first licensing deal with Facebook. 

 

Charlie Lexton, Chief Commercial Officer & General Counsel, Merlin, said: 

 

“Ten years feels like a significant landmark. However, as new services launch, and as streaming and subscription models gain traction in previously undeveloped markets, it is crucial that Merlin can evolve accordingly and offer our members the highest possible level of service. These new additions to our team add significantly to our level of expertise, and ensure that Merlin can continue to bring maximum value to our members’ digital business.”

 

Helen Alexander, Chief Financial Officer, Merlin, said: 

 

“The scale of growth in the digital music market is phenomenal. Last year, we announced that Merlin had distributed $1bn in its first 9 years of operation, and this year we have already announced a groundbreaking series of Chinese deals, as well as our first global partnership with Facebook. This does, of course, considerably increase our reporting workload, but having Marta and Chaida onboard ensures Merlin will continue to manage our continued expansion.”

 

Tom Deakin, Director, Global Member Services, Merlin, said: 

 

“Having been at Merlin since 2008, I have become accustomed to our constant growth - both in the number of members we represent and the number of DSP’s we licence. However, 2017 was remarkable for a real surge of new members, notably from Japan, all of whom continue to add value and geographic reach to the business. Working alongside myself, Chris Tarbet and Sarah Johnston, Quentin will be a key member of the team as we continue to respond to these changes and serve indie labels from all continents.” 

 

Alongside CEO Charles Caldas, other senior members of the Merlin team include Becky Bishop (Head of Finance), Christopher Tarbet (Head of Member Operations), and Ryan McWhinnie (Director, Legal and Business Affairs). 

 

Jim Mahoney is General Manager of Merlin USA, with Haji Taniguchi (General Manager) and Kaoruko Hill (Member Services & Operations Manager) overseeing Merlin’s Japanese office. 

 

Jim Mahoney, GM, Merlin USA

Merlin US welcomes our new colleagues and the expertise they bring to the organization and to our members, in America and across the globe. As an ever increasing number of significant American independents participate in Merlin agreements, it’s a great benefit to add executives the level of Marta, Chaida and Quentin ensuring that Merlin continues to be well resourced and providing the best possible service in support of our members’ success in the digital market.

 

Haji Taniguchi, GM, Merlin Japan

"Japanese labels now have a strong understanding to the benefits of being part of Merlin's global network, and we are excited to help them build their digital business. Since opening the Tokyo office in October 2016, the interest and engagement has been strong, and is growing stronger - and I am delighted that our country now constitutes Merlin's 5th largest source of members. The addition to the team of Marta, Chaida and Quentin will only accelerate this momentum." 

 

MERLIN’S TOP TEN OF THE DECADE

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).