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”.
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