Probably more than ever before, being on an indie label is actually good for an artist. Where in the past an indie label was looked on as the only alternative after being turned down by a major label, today an indie can have as much clout as a major, thanks to Merlin – the organization that collects global digital royalty revenues for independent labels.
Merlin provides indie labels with a much larger voice, unlike in the past. This has led to an undeniable uptick in revenue, as indies now control about 12% of the global music market. That means that Merlin collect around $845 million in the last 12 months for indie labels alone!
Merlin’s membership consists of 20,000 independent record labels and distributors from 63 countries, which includes such heavyweight indies as Beggars Group, Dim Mak, Domino, Eleven Seven Music Group, Entertainment One, Epitaph Records, !K7, Kobalt Label Services/AWAL, Mad Decent, mtheory, Mom + Pop, Ninja Tune, [PIAS], Secretly Group, Symphonic Distribution, Sub Pop and Warp Records. Over 80% of its members saw growth in the past year, which bodes well for the indie sector in general.
The fact is that there’s strength in numbers, and Merlin is now included in any licensing discussions with streaming services along with the major labels. The organization collects money for indies from Facebook, YouTube Music, Spotify, Deezer, Pandora, Alibaba, NetEase and Tencent Music Entertainment, but not from Apple Music or Amazon Music as of yet.
If you own an indie label you can certainly get a better deal and have faster submissions to the streaming services as a Merlin member. You can become a member by going to MerlinNetwork.org. The company currently has offices in London, New York and Tokyo, with its main office in Amsterdam.