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Tuesday, May 15 • 12:00pm - 12:50pm
Merlin’s 10th Anniversary: Indies Leading The Global Digital Business

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To say Merlin has transformed the digital music market is no exaggeration. Ten years ago, independent labels and distributors faced a Catch 22 situation: perfectly suited to the entrepreneurial spirit of online innovation, but penalized at the negotiating table. While DSPs could secure major label repertoire via a handful of deals, partnering with indies was more challenging. It might involve hundreds (if not thousands) of conversations.  
Opening for business in May 2008, Merlin was tasked with ending this market fragmentation - building trust and unity across the independent sector to enable digital services to globally license - via a single deal - the world’s most important and commercially successful distributors and labels. Initially representing 200 members, Merlin’s first partnership was struck with Swedish start-up Spotify. Agreements with other new-generation services followed, as well as groundbreaking copyright settlements with infringing P2P platforms.
The subsequent impact has been profound, and helped unlock the true market value of independent music.
Today, Merlin represents the most valuable basket of rights outside of UMG, Sony and Warner Music. Independent businesses are positioned front and center in licensing negotiations, while their rights are correctly valued. And, in a best-of-both-worlds scenario, alongside empowerment, independent labels have retained their independence.
The agency currently has 800 members in 53 countries - representing tens of thousands of individual labels - and recently dispatched its billionth dollar in distributions.
But what of the future?
Celebrating their 10th anniversary, join Merlin CEO Charles Caldas for a comprehensive discussion that explores not only the market challenges Merlin has enabled independent labels to overcome, but also how Merlin itself operates, how those labels interact with Merlin, and how they have utilized the agency to grow their digital business.
Expect the discussion to cover Merlin’s groundbreaking impact on the wider digital market, offering DSPs a single entry point to successfully navigate the global independent label sector and how that has undoubtedly transformed their businesses too - with Merlin members’ repertoire fueling growth and adoption of streaming services on a global scale, and particularly on paid subscription tiers. The panel will dive deep into these new market dynamics, and offer a unique insight into the next evolutionary phase of our business.

avatar for Charles Caldas

Charles Caldas

CEO, Merlin
Charles Caldas is the CEO of Merlin, a global digital rights agency for the world’s independent label sector. Since Caldas became CEO, Merlin has secured deals with Spotify, YouTube, Pandora, Soundcloud, and Vevo. Merlin has also reached a number of copyright infringement settlements... Read More →

avatar for Darius Van Arman

Darius Van Arman

Co-Owner & Co-Founder, Secretly Label Group
Darius Van Arman is the Co-Founder & Co-Owner of Secretly Group, an Indiana-based label group. Secretly Group has partnered with two-time Grammy winner Bon Iver, ANOHNI, Angel Olsen, and Slowdive, to name a few. Van Arman also co-owns Secretly Distribution, Secretly Publishing and... Read More →
avatar for Amy Dietz

Amy Dietz

EVP, GM, INgrooves
Amy Dietz is the EVP & GM at INgrooves, an independent music distribution and marketing company. In this role she oversees the day-to-day management of global operations, ensuring the company’s label and artist partners are provided with the customer service and technology needed... Read More →
avatar for Zack Gershen

Zack Gershen

EVP & Partner, mtheory
Zack Gershen is an EVP & Partner at mtheory, which is an artist development, marketing, strategy and operations infrastructure company, designed for music artist managers. The company was formed to provide managers with the additional manpower and specialized knowledge required to... Read More →
avatar for Nando Luaces

Nando Luaces

CEO & Founder, Altafonte
Nando Luaces is the CEO & Founder of Altafonte, a digital music and video distributor.  The company focuses on the Latin market, and has locations in nine countries including Spain, Mexico, Brazil, and the United States. Prior, Luaces created the company BOA, which started as a distributor... Read More →

Tuesday May 15, 2018 12:00pm - 12:50pm CDT
Legends G