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Spotify, Merlin Reach Global Indie Label Licensing Deal

21 April 2017

Its stable includes classic British indie labels such as Beggars Group and Sub Pop through to German electronic music label!K7, Kobalt Music, which licenses the music of Prince, and Mad Decent, a USA label which has distributed everything from African and Brazilian funk to artists like Outkast. Given that Merlin is able to take advantage of what Spotify sneakily calls its "flexible release policy", it's likely that Sony and Warner will also get on board here - which means that basically all notable new releases won't be immediately available to free users.

"The agreement is structured to reflect and promote the value of Merlin's collective offering of its members' repertoire, while offering improved marketing and advertising opportunities and enhanced access to data", explained Merlin. Last month, Spotify struck a new deal with Universal Music Group, allowing artists to release new albums on premium only for two weeks - a long-term goal for many artists and labels alike.

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This means existing Spotify investors and employees with stock options would have their shares registered, enabling them to be traded freely, while the company would not be able to raise extra money or work with underwriters to place new shares.

Charles Caldas, Merlin chief executive, said: 'Merlin was a launch partner to Spotify back in 2008, and our partnership has thrived ever since.

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Merlin chairman Martin Mills, of Beggars Group, said he was "delighted" by the new agreement. Following a recent partnership with Universal Music Group that allows the service to offer an exclusive two-week embargo on select releases, the streaming platform will now allow Merlin's 20,000 independent labels a similar option to restrict new albums to the site's paying subscribers for the same two-week window. But that in turn has brought concerns for independent labels, who are monitoring the prominent playlists carefully to gauge whether majors are hogging more of the top slots. Next stop: Sony and Warner?

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Spotify, Merlin Reach Global Indie Label Licensing Deal