Pandora Is Now Directly Negotiating Royalty Rates with Merlin…

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Pandora has just entered into their first direct agreement with labels, announcing a U.S. partnership with Merlin.

Merlin represents 20,000 independent record labels and distributors, including Epitaph, ANTI-, Razor & Tie, Yep Roc, Wind-Up Records, and many more. Merlin says their labels account for about 10 percent of  global and U.S. streaming music markets”.

Pandora currently has about 75 million monthly active users and six billion stations.

As part of the agreement, Pandora will negotiate rates directly with Merlin, rather than paying mandatory rates. Billboard says royalties will still be paid out through SoundExchange.

Rates will remain confidential, but the press release says both parties “expect that the thousands of labels and artists involved will see their royalty payments increase significantly“. In what could be a contradictory statement, Pandora’s CEO Brian McAndrews told Billboard: “We don’t expect the deal to have a major impact on costs”.

 Check Out Pandora’s Fabulous New Manhattan Office Space…

As part of the deal, Pandora will combine the “expertise” of Merlin’s labels with their Music Genome Project. Basically, select songs from Merlin’s labels will play more often to targeted listeners.

Merlin’s artists and labels will have direct access to metadata and insights. The press release says artists can use this data when “selecting cities for a tour schedule, building concert set lists, or choosing a tour partner“.

Pandora will also offer “customized communication channels” so Merlin’s artists can use Pandora to directly engage with fans.

Billy Maupin, Group General Manager of Yep Roc Music, says:

“As an artist driven label we are excited by the Merlin-Pandora deal… Pandora has long been ahead of the curve from a technological standpoint and with today’s announcement they match that prowess with a firm commitment to artists and the independent community alike.”


Nina Ulloa covers breaking news, tech, and more. Follow her on Twitter: @nine_u

3 Responses

  1. hippydog

    Quote “As part of the agreement, Pandora will negotiate rates directly with Merlin, rather than paying mandatory rates. Billboard says royalties will still be paid out through SoundExchange.

    Rates will remain confidential, ”

    WTF? confidential? How? why?

  2. Anonymous

    Makes sense, as at least Pandora pays more per play than Youtube

  3. Another Voice

    (Nearly) every direct license is completed under NDA as to the revenue terms. That doesn’t make it good but it is what it is. Merlin and Pandora both comment in their press release that the deal isn’t about money which could lead readers to believe that the royalty is very close to if not the same as the statutory rates. I think a number of the press items about this deal sum it up correctly – artists and labels in the deal are going to get more money because their music is going to be played more but this is about getting additional promotional opportunities on Pandora and about getting reporting data from Pandora. As a member I feel compelled to say, anyone interested in partaking should join Merlin – it’s free to be a join and is open to anyone who owns their masters and controls their digital rights.