The Advocates Behind Billboard's 2018 Indie Power Players

Courtesy of Merlin
Charles Caldas

Billboard’s Indie Power Players report recognizes achievement at independently-owned record labels, music publishers and distributors -- but also these trade groups and executives who are advocates for the indie music community.

INDIE ADVOCATE: MERLIN

With over 800 member companies that represent some 20,000 labels from 55 countries, Merlin is the global digital-rights agency for the world’s independent-label sector.

Under CEO Charles Caldas, Merlin uses the shared repertoire of its membership -- more than 12 percent of the global digital recorded-music market -- to strike the best deal possible with Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming services.

Merlin also uses data from digital music platforms to prepare reports that break down payments to labels so that the label, in turn, can accurately pay royalties to artists.

In June, Merlin reported $500 million in annual collections from digital music providers for its members.

When Spotify went public earlier in 2018, Merlin sold an undisclosed amount of stock that it had received when negotiating licensing deals years ago with the then-fledgling service. It distributed the proceeds to its members.

INDIE ADVOCATE: AIMP​

The voice of the Association of Independent Music Publishers has never been more vital than now, as the Music Modernization Act makes its way through Congress in the face of an end-of-term deadline.

“The MMA will update the music-licensing system for today’s online world and correct long-standing programs that have denied songwriters and publishers full control over their works,” read a statement in June, issued by AIMP president Michael Eames, AIMP New York executive director Alisa Coleman and AIMP Nashville executive director John Ozier.

Since 1977, AIMP has supported the indie publishing community through education, analysis of business trends and networking opportunities. The second Indie Music Publishing Summit was held in New York in June.

INDIE ADVOCATE: A2IM​

The American Association of Independent Music -- known as A2IM -- is the nonprofit trade association -representing the interests of over 550 indie record labels.

A2IM presented its annual Indie Music Week -- four days of workshops and panels -- in New York in June, culminating with the members-only Libera Awards.

Defining its membership, A2IM CEO Richard James Burgess has stated that an independent label “must own 50 percent or more of its masters and, as it stands, no independent has more than 5 percent [of] global market share. Similarly, a distributor must be 50 percent or more owned independently of the major labels.”

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 25 issue of Billboard.