EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Merlin CE0 Charles Caldas
HYPEBOT: Who are the members of Merlin and can they join directly or must it be via a regional trade group like A2IM?
MERLIN: Up until now we have been operating on a conceptual mandate that has been granted by a number of major independent trade associations around the world, including Europe, Brazil, Australia,
South Africa, Japan and many key US labels.
We will soon be issuing membership agreements to allow us to be more specific in regards to membership. Membership of Merlin is open to all Independent Master Rights Holders and representatives. Where there are local trade bodies it would of course be far more efficient to join via their local body, but there are many countries that have no local trade body, so we have allowed labels to join whether they are members of their local trade body or not and regardless of the “tier” of membership within the organization.
HYPEBOT: Who should join Merlin?
MERLIN: I believe that all independent labels, distributors and aggregators should join Merlin. The broadest possible membership will not only maximise the impact of Merlin but also allow us to enhance t
he ability for our members to compete in the market. Through their participation in Merlin,
independents can for the first time ever have the unique interests of their sector represented on a truly global scale, by a non-profit, member owned body focused totally on their sector.
HYPEBOT: Blanket indie deals with digital services like YouTube is a major goal for Merlin. Are members expected to abide by the group deal or can they opt out?
MERLIN: The Merlin Mandate will operate as a non-exclusive, Opt-Out agreement, allowing companies to participate in Merlin in a manner that is designed to ensure maximum participation but also allow each member to run their business in the way they see fit.
HYPEBOT: What kind of deals are you focusing on?
MERLIN: We are going to concentrate on instances where independents are being discriminated against, where services are using market fragmentation to their advantage…
… or where it is clear that a central negotiation is the only way in
which to achieve access to, or an equitable share of revenue streams.
There are certainly enough instances around that would fit into those
scenarios, so that will help us to be very focused in our early stages
Merlin is not there to interfere in the day to day business and
licensing done by its members. Rather, Merlin is there to provide
access to and protect the global independent sector by ensuring
competitive terms for new and emerging media usages of its music.
Enhancing competition – That is ultimately what Merlin is about.