charles caldas merlin

Charles Caldas, the founder and CEO of the independents’ digital rights agency Merlin, has received the IMPALA outstanding contribution award.

The Australian-born, London-based exec established Merlin back in 2007, creating what was described at the time as the world’s “virtual fifth major.” Times have changed; Merlin is now the “virtual fourth major.”

In the five years since its arrival, the global rights body for independent labels has negotiated a range of deals, including licensing arrangements with Spotify, YouTube, Google Play, Rdio and Deezer. In recent times, Merlin sued and settled on behalf of its members with the likes of XM Satellite Radio, Grooveshark and LimeWire, recouping “millions and millions of dollars that were not going to be in the hands of our members,” Caldas has said.

Merlin’s membership now counts more than 14,000 independent record labels and distributors in 34 countries, whose repertoire collectively boast a 10% share of the global music market.

Prior to relocating to the U.K. in 2007 to establish Merlin, Caldas had played a big part in the rise of the then-great Australian independent music company Shock, serving as CEO of Shock Records. He’s also enjoyed stints as on the Boards of Australian labels body ARIA, Australia’s independent music companies assn. AIR and the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN).

Caldas becomes just the third winner of the annual trophy, which recognises “the unrivaled efforts of an individual or organisation to promote and develop European independent music and the sector’s diversity.” IMPALA, the pan-European independent music companies' trade body, has previously bestowed the award to Beggars Group chairman Martin Mills and Spanish producer and entrepreneur Mario Pacheco.