'Fifth Major' Merlin Launches To Cut Music Indies' Online Deals

Seven months after it was announced, Merlin, the body designed to represent thousands of indie music labels in striking online deals, announced finally plans to go live on Monday. Independent labels represent 30 percent of worldwide music sales and 80 percent of new releases, but in negotiating licenses for online sale and streams they have been fragmented. Dubbed a “virtual fifth major”, the organization was announced in a press conference at the Midem music industry conferences in Cannes back in January; now it has incorporated as a non-profit company in London and Holland, owned by its member labels. The aim is to put indies on a level playing field, correcting what Merlin reckons is a growing assumption that emerging media need only strike licenses with the four major labels. The 15 board members include IODA founder Kevin Arnold and Beggars Group chairman Martin Mills; CEO is Charles Caldas, joined by Worldwide Independents Network president Alison Wenham. (Full list in announcement).

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