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Digital Roundup: Merlin Drops Admin Fee, Hires Helen Alexander; Chris Harrison Named DiMA CEO; Jerry Gold Joins LiveXLive

Ed Christman's latest Digital Round-up includes Merlin's double announcement, Digital Media Association hires a new CEO and Jerry Gold is named LiveXLive's new EVP and CFO.

The latest Digital Round-up includes Merlin’s double announcement, Digital Media Association hires a new CEO and Jerry Gold is named LiveXLive’s new EVP and CFO. 

Merlin, the global rights licensing and digital collection agency for independent labels, says it has paid out $300 million in the past 12 months and as a result, it is dropping its administration fee to 1.5 percent of revenue. Previously, the agency charged 2 percent of revenue.


Merlin already had the lowest administration fee for collection organizations prior to the latest reduction. Its royalty payouts have grown  from $36 million in 2012, when it was charging an administration fee of 7 percent.

“On the back of our new agreement with Spotify, I am proud to announce yet another reduction in our administration fee,” Merlin CEO Charles Caldas said in a statement. “Together it means Merlin continues to deliver maximum value to our members’ digital business, and highlights our ongoing commitment to provide ever greater efficiencies.

In another move, Merlin has hired Helen Alexander to serve as finance director. Previously, she was director of operations and business development for the Warner Bros. post production facility in Soho, London.

Alexander “brings with her a wealth of experience and, at a time of explosive global growth in our market, will ensure that all internal finance, reporting and operations processes continue to run smoothly,” Caldas added.

Chris Harrison, formerly a senior executive with Sirius XM, Pandora, and DMX,  has joined the Digital Media Assn. as CEO, replacing Lee Knife, executive director who left the organization late last year.

DiMA is a Washington, D.C.-based trade group that represents digital services and digital distributors of music, movie and books. It sometimes serves as the partner to the content owners, like record labels and music publishers; and sometimes as an adversary, depending on which legislation is being discussed in Congress; or what rates are being discussed.

“The innovative member companies that comprise DiMA and enable access to the greatest diversity of content are a critical part of the creative industry’s value chain, paying billions of dollars in royalties and license fees to content creators each year,” Harrison said in a statement. “As the pace of innovation continues to increase, it’s more important than ever that all stakeholders work together, and I look forward to leading that effort and ensuring consumers continue to enjoy and engage meaningfully with creative content.”

Harrison has a long history of working with digital services and was most recently at Sirius where he was VP of music business affairs, although he made his biggest mark on the industry while at Pandora, where he was VP of business affairs and assistant general counsel.

|The DiMA board issued a statement on Harrison’s hiring; ““At a time of unprecedented growth in the digital media industries and huge customer demand for an ever-increasing selection of creative content, we look forward to Harrison’s leadership to help further technological innovations and the fair, equitable consumption of digital content.”

Jerry Gold, formerly the CFO of the Warner Music Group, has joined LiveXLive as executive VP/CFO, reporting to the company’s CEO/founder Rob Ellin.

“Jerry brings tremendous experience, an unparalleled network and financial expertise to LiveXLive, and we are thrilled that he has joined full-time,” LiveXLive’s Ellin said in a statement. “The live music streaming industry is massive and fragmented.”

Ellin noted that in addition to Gold, the company also gets strategic advice from Phil Quartararo, a former top label executive. Ellin said that Gold and Quartararo’s “will be invaluable to LiveXLive as we execute on our intent to be a consolidator in the space.”

LiveXLive is a subsidiary of Loton Corp., which intends to deliver around the clock live music to fans. It plans on offering music fans access, via any connected device, to music festivals as well as unique concerts around the world. The company has already streamed performances by artists like Katy Perry, Rihanna, Radiohead, Rod Stewart, Metallica, Sam Smith, Elton John, and John Legend, according to the company’s announcement.

“LiveXLive is reinvigorating the music business by filling the gap between live and accessible music experiences, with a sharp focus on mobile,” Gold said in a statement. Having spent much of my career in the global media and entertainment industry, I understand the passion, and increasing demand, for live music and am excited to join the movement.”

TuneCore musicians and songwriters will now have the option of tapping automated advances on their future earnings, thanks to a deal the company has signed with Lyric Financial.

TuneCore says the deal makes it simple for artists to access advances at their convenience, 24/7 and on their own terms, without giving up control of their music, or signing longer contracts. For an undisclosed, one-time fee, qualifying TuneCore artists can request a cash advance directly from their TuneCore Balance Page, which is repaid directly from future sales and automatically deducted from streaming and download earnings.  

“This is a one-of-a-kind integrated offering that gives artists a hassle-free, reliable way to access their future earnings quickly and easily, eliminating the difficulty often associated with obtaining advances,” TuneCore CEO Scott Ackerman said in a statement. “We are deeply invested in the careers of our artists and are committed to ensuring they have the tools and resources needed to succeed.”

In order to qualify for an advance, TuneCore artists must be with the service for two consecutive years; and eligibility for advance is based on historical, current and forecasted earnings. Advance totals range from a $250 minimum to a $25,000 maximum.

TuneCore Direct Advance was developed in partnership with Lyric Financial Founder and Chief Executive Eli Ball to give independent artists the ability to budget and access their royalties and licensing income at their convenience. Lyric Financial, based in Nashville, was founded by Ball, who has worked in both the music industry and the financial services industry.

“For the last two years, we have worked to automate what has historically been a cumbersome manual advance process in the music industry,” Ball said in a statement. “TuneCore Direct Advance is a simple, easy-to-use application that provides creatives with a clear view of their current and forecasted earnings, allowing them to request advances in less than a minute. These basic tools will be invaluable to any music industry professional in budgeting and managing the ups and downs of their cash flow.”