CHARLES CALDAS, 53
MICHAEL HUPPE, 49
Last Year’s Rank: 68
BILLION-DOLLAR BACKBEAT: In 2017, Merlin, which turns 10 this year, hit the $1 billion mark for royalty payouts to indie labels during its lifetime, while SoundExchange, which has been around since 2000, dispensed about $700 million to major-label constituents in 2017 alone.
GROWING IN LEAPS AND BYTES: Merlin, which collects digital royalties for 20,000 indie labels in 53 countries, has grown at a faster rate than expected. “The most we thought we could collect when we started was $10 million a year. We’re now at $1 million a day,” says Caldas. While SoundExchange’s revenue from its core business has fallen, it has expanded into new areas, having purchased Canada’s CMRRA — renamed SXWorks — for publisher and songwriter services. “We’re doing a lot more than we did five years ago,” says Huppe, “including data services and class action settlements.”