Streaming

Merlin Renews Licensing Deal With India's JioSaavn

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The one-year deal deepens the partners’ relationship, which began in 2014.

Digital rights organization Merlin has renewed a one-year deal with JioSaavn, a leading Indian streaming platform, to license its content primarily in India, a country whose music consumers are largely focused on streaming domestic repertoire, the companies tell Billboard.

The new one-year deal gives JioSaavn's more than 100 million monthly average users access to Merlin's catalog, which represents about 15% of the global digital recorded-music market.

For London-based Merlin, which has distributed more than $2 billion to its almost 900 members since launching in 2008, the deal solidifies a relationship it has had with Saavn since 2014. The renewal is the first since the streaming service merged with Reliance Industries’ JioMusic in 2018, creating JioSaavn, in a deal that valued the combined company at $1 billion. (JioSaavn now comes pre-installed on Jio's own JioPhone and is also available for web, Android, and iOS users.)

"We recognize that India is an important market and is only going to become more important," says Charlie Lexton, Merlin's chief operating officer. "We want to give our members the opportunity to have their music as widely available on licensed services as possible."

India, a market dominated by movie soundtracks, saw its recorded music revenues grow 4.9% to $180 million last year, lagging overall global growth of 7.4%, according to the IFPI's Global Music Report. About 75% of the content consumed on JioSaavn is domestic Indian repertoire, with about 25% being international, says Keshav Bhola, JioSaavn's vp of content partnerships.

"Merlin has a vast international catalog from their music labels' point of view," says Bhola. "And they're also working with so many independent artists to provide content to platforms like us."

Lexton says Merlin is in discussions with other Indian streaming platforms about potential licensing deals. The increasingly crowded field includes Gaana, Wynk Music, ByteDance's Resso and international players like Spotify and Apple Music.

Merlin’s membership includes leading independents such as Armada Music, Beggars Group, Dim Mak and Ultra Records. The rights organization also has global licensing agreements with Alibaba, Deezer, Spotify, Tencent Music Entertainment and YouTube Music.