SOURCE: Merlin Network

June 11, 2008 07:30 ET

Merlin: Global Rights Body for Independent Music Grows to 8% Share of US Market

Position Now Equal to That of EMI Music; Represents Biggest Bundle of Rights Outside the Four Major Labels

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - June 11, 2008) -

--  Membership Tops 12,000 Labels In 1st Month
--  UK Members Command 75% Market Share Of The Top 75 Independent albums
    of 2007

Merlin, the world's first global rights body for independent music, has seen its membership swell to over 12,000 labels in its first month of full operation -- representing, without a doubt, the largest and most commercially significant bundle of music rights outside the majors. This brings their current market share in the US alone to over 8%, equal to that of EMI Music.

Merlin's mission, announced at MIDEM last year, is to represent the world's independent sector and act as an efficient central point of entry to the music it represents, in particular for digital, new media and web 2.0 rights. Merlin provides an unprecedented efficiency in bringing together the world's most commercially important independent repertoire in one place.

"Merlin is a major development for the independent music sector and the services who use our music. With the repertoires of independent US music market leading labels and distributors (such as KOCH, Epitaph, IODA, Beggars and Concord) and thousands of other independent rights owners now available through Merlin, we send a clear message to the industry at large that valuable independent content is now more accessible, and more easily licensed than it has ever been," explains Merlin Chairman and President of KOCH Records, Bob Frank.

Worldwide membership numbers are even more dramatic, with members commanding 72% of Europe's top 60 independent albums for the past three years and a 75% UK market share of the top 75 independent albums in 2007.

Merlin will only act when its globally elected board deems it appropriate -- in the best interest of its members -- with all profits being distributed to members. The pioneering rights body is currently in discussions with Last.FM and MySpace as well as other major digital companies to ensure competitive remuneration for independents worldwide.

"Independents have, until now, found it difficult to access many of the new and emerging online services in a commercially effective manner," explains Merlin CEO, Charles Caldas. "In Merlin, independents finally have a commercial body that can act to ensure their rights are centrally represented, fairly remunerated and properly protected in the marketplace."

As the latest industry figures show global indie share is just under 30% of the global market, and 80% of all new releases, Merlin rebuts the growing assumption that, for emerging media, only the four majors need to be licensed.

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