Merlin Partners With Asian Streaming Service KKBOX

Courtesy Photo
Josephine Cheng (SVP, KKBOX) and Charles Caldas (CEO, Merlin)

Global independent rights group Merlin has signed a licensing deal with Asia's leading music streaming service, KKBOX.

The partnership represents Merlin's first ever pan-Asian specific deal and covers the territories of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the world's second largest music market, Japan. Taiwan-based KKNOX was launched in 2004 and currently boasts over 10 million users, including two million paying subscribers.

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"This deal will enable Merlin members around the world to capitalize on the huge appetite for independent music across South East Asia," said Merlin CEO Charles Caldas in a statement announcing the deal.

The addition of Merlin members' rights catalogue, which collectively covers 20,000 labels and distributors across 40 countries and accounts for a 10 percent share of the U.S. and global recorded music markets, the company claims, brought "some of the world's best independent labels to KKBOX," said the company's senior vice president Josephine Cheng.

"We continue to be committed to empower independent labels and artists to distribute and promote their music through our platform," Cheng went on to say. KKBOX's cataloge stands at over 20 million tracks, including a comprehensive Asia-Pop music library.

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Since its foundation in 2008, Merlin has partnered with most of the leading digital services, including Spotify, Deezer, Rdio, Beats Music, YouTube Music Key and Google Play. In August last year, the company signed a U.S. only deal with Pandora, which marked the internet radio company's first direct partnership with a label. The deal drew criticism from several parties for what they perceived as a lowering of its member labels' per stream royalty rate, although both parties contended that deal preserved the existing payout structure and was in line with statutory rates.

Last fall additionally saw the Amsterdam-based open a dedicated U.S. office in New York, headed by former A2IM vp Jim Mahoney. Included among Merlin's member labels and distributors is Beggars Group, Cooking Vinyl, Domino, Epitaph, Kobalt Label Services, PIAS, Merge and Warp, collectively representing artists such as The National, Jack White, Bon Iver, The Prodigy, Tom Waits, Arctic Monkeys and Arcade Fire.