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Payments To Indie Labels Grew 73% Last Year Driven By Streaming, Says Merlin

Merlin-logo-one-with-strapline-copyThe annual survey of members of Merlin, the indie music licencing agency led by Charles Caldas, was announced earlier this week during A2IM’s Indie Week in New York City. The biggest takeaway was not that streaming revenue had become an essential revenue source, but rather how quickly it is growing.


Speaking at A2IM’s Annual Meeting this week, Charles Caldas, CEO of Merlin announced the results of Merlin’s 2016 member survey.

Merlin’s 700 members represents more than 12% of the global digital market across more than 20,000 labels, including Beggars Group, Domino, Epitaph, Kobalt Label Services, Merge, Ninja Tune, [PIAS], Secretly Group and Warp Records.

Key survey findings:

  • Arrows upRevenues paid out to Merlin’s independent label members increases by 73% year-on-year to $232 million
  • Downloads are still the primary digital revenue source for 28% of respondents – down from 41% in 2015.
  • For 64% of respondents, video-streaming platforms like YouTube account for less than 10% of overall digital revenues.
  • The volume of audio streams increased by 80%. In March 2016 alone, audio tracks by Merlin’s members were streamed more than 4bn times, up from 2.5bn in March 2015.
  • 39% report over half of digital revenues originate from outside their home territory, compared with just 16% reporting the same for physical
  • 79% state they are optimistic about the future of their business
  • Almost half (46%) of Merlin’s members report audio streaming/subscription as their primary source of digital revenue
  • Usage of Merlin members’ repertoire on audio streaming/subscription services is 27% higher on paid tiers compared to free ad-funded tiers


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