Merlin launches ‘Merlin Connect’ to provide tech platforms with licensed indie music

Merlin, a digital music licensing and membership organization for independent labels, has launched an initiative aimed at providing emerging technology platforms with access to independent music created by real artists.

Called Merlin Connect, Merlin developed the new tool in response to growing concerns about artificial intelligence and its impact on artistic creation. While AI can produce generic music, many critics argue that it lacks the originality of human-created works.

Merlin Connect seeks to address this by providing emerging tech platforms with access to a vast library of “high-quality” music from independent artists, the organization said Wednesday (June 5).

Merlin Connect also aims to address the challenges of licensing music, which can be complex and expensive for many emerging technology platforms, Merlin said. Merlin Connect seeks to eliminate these challenges by offering a simplified approach.

Participating platforms will gain access to a curated selection of fully cleared music, eliminating the need for lengthy negotiations with individual rights holders. Merlin says its goal is to find the “next generation of music monetization opportunities” for its members including independent record labels, distributors, and other rights holders.

“With the launch of Merlin Connect, we are taking a significant step forward in this mission. This initiative underscores Merlin’s ongoing dedication to fostering innovation in the independent music sector.”

Horst Weidenmüller, !K7

Merlin represents a global membership from over 70 countries, accounting for 15% of the recorded music market. Their membership includes independents like !K7, Armada Music, CD Baby, CD Baby and Downtown Music (including FUGA), Cinq Music Group, Domino, Reservoir Media, Secretly, Symphonic Distribution, Hopeless Records, and others.

Merlin has established deals with major partners such as Apple, Deezer, Meta, Spotify, TikTok, Pandora, Tencent, YouTube Music, Soundcloud, Audiomack, and Boomplay, to provide its members with a strong presence in the digital music landscape.

“As one of the founders of Merlin, I’ve had the opportunity to support the incredible growth of our organization from its inception to now,” said Horst Weidenmüller, Founder of !K7.

“Merlin has always been dedicated to empowering independence, ensuring that its members receive the access and opportunities they deserve. With the launch of Merlin Connect, we are taking a significant step forward in this mission. This initiative underscores Merlin’s ongoing dedication to fostering innovation in the independent music sector.”

“With Connect, Merlin can now expand the reach of members’ music into new areas where music fans interact with the music they love. We are excited to see Merlin Connect open new doors for our artists and bring their music to innovative platforms around the world.”

Louis Posen, Hopeless Records

Access to Merlin Connect is granted through an application process. Merlin’s team will review each application and selectively engage with the most promising platforms based on their innovation capacity, leadership strength, and team resilience. This process is meant to ensure that Merlin, its members, and select artists can collaborate with platforms that show potential for sustainable growth and innovation.

Louis Posen, Founder of Hopeless Records, said, “With Connect, Merlin can now expand the reach of members’ music into new areas where music fans interact with the music they love. We are excited to see Merlin Connect open new doors for our artists and bring their music to innovative platforms around the world.”

“Our audacious goal is to partner with the next suite of platforms that shape the future of music monetization for Merlin’s members. We want our independent members and their artists to sit at the forefront of music and technology.”

Jeremy Sirota, Merlin

Merlin CEO Jeremy Sirota added: “Merlin Connect is our commitment to finding and unlocking new opportunities for our members in a disruptive industry. Our audacious goal is to partner with the next suite of platforms that shape the future of music monetization for Merlin’s members. We want our independent members and their artists to sit at the forefront of music and technology.”

The launch of Music Connect comes as Merlin continues to partner with new tech platforms aside from music streaming services. In November 2023, Merlin started licensing the catalogs of its members to graphic design app Canva. It follows Canva’s plans to bring copyrighted music to its platform.

Music Business Worldwide

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