Latest Industry: Merlin, Island, Kobalt, Mixcloud, Recording Academy, VEVO, AEG, Unified, Sony, More…

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Merlin turns 10 — and expands its employee base to 21.

Not bad: Merlin started 10 years ago with three employees and a mission to better represent indies in high-stakes negotiations.  Now, countless deals later, the consortium has 21 employees, thanks to the addition of three new hires.  Marta de la Hoz joins as Head of Reporting, Chaida Kapfunde as Head of Technology & Development, and Quentin Martins as Member Operations Manager.

The licensing juggernaut, which just cashed its approximately 1% Spotify equity stake, has offices in Amsterdam, London, New York and Tokyo.  In 2017, the consortium added more members than any other year — save its inaugural coming out.

Island Records promotes Darcus Beese.

Island Records has promoted Darcus Beese to the role of President. He succeeds David Massey who will now work at Sony Music.  Beese will move from the UK to New York City.  He starts on July 1st.

Kobalt inks Prince Royce.

This is probably the biggest signing of the day: Kobalt has just inked Prince Royce to a worldwide publishing deal.  The deal includes publishing administration for all of Prince Royce’s future works as well as many of his past hits like ‘Te Me Vas’, ‘Incondicional’, ‘Las Cosas Pequeñas’ and ‘Te Perdiste Mi Amor’ feat. Thalia.

Interestingly, Kobalt specially earmarked the smash collaboration ‘Sensualidad,’ which features outrageous contributions from the likes of Bad Bunny, J Balvin, and Mambo Kingz.  The track has nearly 260 million plays on Spotify.

Unified announces YouTube integration.

Unified, a marketing software and services company, has announced the addition of YouTube to its social advertising intelligence platform.  Marketers can now track their social performance ad spend across YouTube and six other social channels.

Mixcloud signs deal with ICE.

European digital music rights organization ICE has announced a multi-territory licensing deal with Mixcloud.  The digital music service’s ‘Core’ license deal covers PRS, STIM, and GEMA repertoire for Mixcloud’s combined 290,000 members as well as repertoire for several leading indie publishers.  Mixcloud has reported 17 million monthly active users.  The service also has over 1.2 million unique content creators and more than 12 million DJ sets, radio shows, and podcasts.

The Recording Academy responds.

The Recording Academy has swiftly responded to serious accusations against its president and chairman Neil Portnow.  The accusations include illegally diverting funds from MusiCares to cover a huge Grammys deficit.  “As Ms. Tomarken well knows, neither MusiCares nor the Recording Academy ever intended to reduce, nor will they reduce, the amount of financial support made available to MusiCares clients in need,” the Academy stated.

“MusiCares continues to provide the highest level of service to people in need across our music community, as evidenced by the four-star rating it earned, once again, in February from Charity Navigator — the highest rating the independent charity watchdog organization awards. Simply, our commitment and support will not be diminished.”

Republic Records ups Adelson.

Ben Adelson has just been promoted to Executive Vice President of A&R at Republic Records, one of UMG’s plum labels.  The announcement was made today (Thursday).  Adelson is credited for inking Lord Huron and James Bay, among other water artists.

Discogs shares the Top 50 best-selling records of March.

Discogs has released its Top 50 Best Selling Records of March 2018.  The list includes debuts by The Breeder’s All Nerve at #15 and Judas Priest’s Firepower at #10.  Highlights include the appearance of Queen’s Night At The Opera entering the Top 50 at #22.  AC/DC’s Back in Black and The Police’s Synchronicity re-entered the Top 50 at #33 and #39, respectively.

Sony: Declines in digital downloads and physical revenue will cause global music market slowdown.

According to new projections released by Sony to investors, the music industry will experience a slowdown in global recorded music growth this year.  Sony Music forecasts that audio streaming will grow 29% this year.  This will drive its overall streaming revenues to take 54% of the total global recorded music market at $8.2 billion.  But the major label expects digital downloads to fall 35% and physical revenue to sink 19% in 2018.

Sony Music COO Kevin Kelleher told investors,

“We have forecast an accelerated decline in both the download and physical business. That accelerated decline is currently what we’re seeing in the monthly year-over-year trends.”

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Image by Sony and MBW

John Powell and Germaine Franco honored at the 2018 ASCAP Screen Music Awards.

At its 33rd annual Screen Music Awards, ASCAP honored Oscar-nominated film composer John Powell and composer and songwriter Germaine Franco.  Powell received the ASCAP Henry Mancini Award for his outstanding achievements and contributions to the world of film and television.  Franco received the ASCAP Shirley Walker Award for her achievements to the world of film and television.

AEG Presents signs deal with Detroit’s Majestic Theatre.

Officials for Detroit’s historic Majestic Theatre have confirmed that they’ve struck a deal with AEG Presents to exclusively book the feature.  The deal could bring over 100 shows to the theater each year.  Construction for a planned $1 million renovation has also started.  The renovation includes a new art-deco facade and marquee, a curb-facing box office, and an expanded main theater with a restored ceiling and acoustical treatment.

Gilberto Gil cancels upcoming show in Israel due to tensions in the region.

Brazilian singer and songwriter Gilberto Gil has canceled his upcoming show in Israel due to “apprehensions over current tensions in the region.”  He would’ve performed on July 4th in Ra’anana, home to the largest concentration of Brazilian immigrants in the country.

BuzzFeed News to produce a documentary about R. Kelly’s alleged sexual abuse for Hulu.

In collaboration with Hulu, BuzzFeed News will produce a documentary about R. Kelly’s alleged sexual abuse of women and girls.  The film will feature reporting from writer Jim DeRogatis and deputy national editor Marisa Carroll.

The Michael Jackson Estate decries ABC News’ special about the singer’s passing.

The estate of Michael Jackson has lambasted an upcoming ABC News special about the late pop singer.  The special includes ‘new information’ about the singer’s health decline and subsequent passing in 2009.  A spokesperson for Jackson’s estate said,

“It is particularly disheartening that Disney, a company known to strongly believe in protecting its own IP rights, would choose to ignore these rights belonging to the Estate.”

Atlantic Records and Big Yellow Dog announce an exclusive label partnership.

Atlantic Records has signed an exclusive label partnership for future releases with Big Yellow Dog, an indie music publishing and artist development company.  The deal marks the indie company’s label venture.  It follows a publishing joint venture Big Yellow Dog signed with Downtown Music Publishing last year.

Featured image by Mixcloud