Pandora has struck a deal with Merlin. The global rights agency that represents over 20,000 indie labels including Epitaph, Razor & Tie, and Wind-Up Records announced the deal with the Music-Tech giant this past Wednesday. This marks Pandora's first direct label deal and will allow Merlin's labels to negotiate royalty rates instead of paying statutory rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board. With this new deal in place, not only will Merlin’s artists see increased royalty payments, but Pandora will provide them with access to metadata that was otherwise restricted. Merlin’s artists will also now be able to use Pandora as a platform for direct-to-fan access.
Sony/ATV's Martin Bandier is threatening to withdraw all rights from ASCAP and BMI. Most major music publishers are looking to withdraw digital rights from the PROs and negotiate direct deals with digital services due to low royalty rates for publishers from digital services. Withdrawing digital rights from the PROs presents challenges to publishers like licensing to small businesses. Martin Bandier, the CEO of Sony/ATV has made it clear that if the Decrees are not amended he will “explore other options”.
An ongoing battle with YouTube over alleged heavy handed negotiating tactics and unfair terms for their unlaunched subscription music service, has united the global independent music community on the broader issue of fairness in all digital deals. In a not so veiled jab at YouTube and other digital services, global indie trade group WIN has released an open letter signed by more than 700 independent labels that calls for fair digital music deals.
"The big print giveth and the small print taketh away.”