CEO Charles Caldas points to helping labels break into International markets. "They are seeing revenue from way more territories," he says of members. "Brazil is now our No. 6 market."
Merlin, the organization that uses the collective clout of indie labels to gain a strong hand in negotiations with digital music providers, is about to reach $500 million in annual collections; and is now looking toward the day when it will hit $1 billion annually.
"Ten years ago, when we sat down and we were considering that Merlin would look like one day, I would have been happy if we could get to $10 million one day," says Merlin CEO Charles Caldas. Today, the organization boasts 800 members, with 20,000 labels and imprints in 55 countries around the globe. In the first nine years of its existence, it distributed $1 billion to its member companies. This year, alone, it will reach half that amount.
Merlin is the agency created to negotiate with digital service providers like Spotify, Apple, and Pandora on behalf of indie labels so that they can use their collective might to extract better terms than if the labels worked on their own. A good example of how that clout worked, when Spotify went public recently, Merlin sold an undisclosed amount of stock that it had received when negotiating licensing deals years ago with the then-fledgling service.