Licensing organisation Merlin recently signed a series of big digital deals for its members in the independent sector, including partnerships with Lickd, Twitch and Boomplay.
It’s more than two-and-a-half years since the appointment of Facebook exec Jeremy Sirota as CEO of Merlin. Here, he talks regional streaming services, social music and the metaverse...
What have been the key challenges since your appointment in 2020?
"We've grown from 22 to 42 people, so that's been a really interesting challenge, and that just simply comes from growth in deals and in members. The second is that we've expanded our membership in a lot of new areas and in countries that we've never had direct members. We have 140-plus new members since I've started, in 14 or 15 new countries. We're unique in the sense that our membership is comprised not just of labels, but also distributors, artist management companies, all different types of rights-holders. What we have found is the mission of Merlin is unbelievably elastic. There is no area, there is no business model, there's no genre, there is no culture where the Merlin mission does not apply.”
Was that a deliberate part of your strategy to open up beyond traditional labels?
“It's something I built on. We've expanded the team and service offering around the core of what we do, and we’re making it more accessible. I like to call it ‘demystifying Merlin’, and what we've seen is an explosive growth in the number of people applying to be members. We are the ultimate WYSIWYG – what you see is what you get. We have one membership agreement, one rate, so that makes my job incredibly helpful because I'm not negotiating with hundreds of members or clients around the world. But it does take a little bit of education to understand what that is, so the board play a really key role in helping us.”
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