Merlin Reports 200 Percent Growth in Japanese Distributions

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Japan's highest peak Mount Fuji is seen behind buildings at dusk on Nov. 25, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. 

Two years after opening its first Japanese office, global music rights agency Merlin is seeing strong growth in the world's second largest music market.

In the first six months of 2018, distributions to independent label members in Japan increased by over 200 percent from the same period the previous year, claims Merlin CEO Charles Caldas.

The rise in revenues were revealed on the same day that Caldas delivered a keynote speech at the 15th Tokyo International Music Market (TIMM). The company did not provide monetary values for distributions, but credited the growth to a rise in Merlin's Japanese membership coupled with a 70 percent increase in average payments over the past 12 months. Japan is now Merlin's fifth largest source of members.

Merlin's Tokyo office, based in the Ebisu district, opened in October 2016 and is managed by former Avex Music Publishing President Haji Taniguchi. Working alongside Taniguchi is Kaoruko Hill, member services and operations manager, Japan, who oversees licensing deals for local independent labels.  

"I am hugely proud of what we've achieved over the past two years," said Taniguchi in a statement. "Merlin now has an established base in Japan and it is gratifying that local independent labels are already realizing the value of Merlin membership and growing their overseas business."

Taniguchi went on to note "these are still early days for streaming in our country."

"With the streaming market now growing across Asia, Japanese labels are in a perfect situation to benefit from Merlin's global licensing partnerships and to build a worldwide business," added Merlin board member and Japanese indie label Danger Crue CEO Masahiro "Jack" Oishi.  

His words were echoed by Merlin's CEO who called the 2016 opening of its Tokyo office "a landmark in the global growth" of the business.

"As well as being the world's second largest music market, Japan has a thriving music culture with huge export potential. Our data underlines that Merlin is helping our Japanese members extract maximum value from the global demand for their repertoire," stated Caldas.

He added that Taniguchi and Hill "have done a fantastic job in establishing Merlin's presence in Japan and have additionally enabled Merlin members around the world to gain greater insight of the Asian market overall." He also predicted "further successes in the years ahead."

Since launching in May 2008, Merlin has distributed over $1.5 billion to its members, spanning more than 20,000 independent record labels and distributors across 57 countries. In percentage terms, Amsterdam head-quartered company with offices in London and New York claims more than 12 percent of the global digital recorded music market through its members.


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