Merlin Appoints Inaugural Board and Formally Incorporates
20th August ’07:- Fifteen representatives from independent rights-holders the world over were today installed as the inaugural board of Merlin, the world’s first rights body for the global independent record sector, which collectively accounts for 80% of the world’s new releases and a 30% share of the global music market.*
At the same time Merlin has formally incorporated as a company limited by guarantee, a process overseen by KPMG. The multinational auditors have ensured Merlin’s constitution and organisational structure fulfil its stated aims: a commercial organisation that will be non-profit, member-owned, transparent in its operations and cost effective to its membership.
The new board is split equally across Merlin’s three operational territories - with five each from North America, Europe, rest of the world - to ensure the company fully represents the varied geographical needs of the sector. The inaugural board members are:
The elected Directors will join permanent Directors the President of WIN, currently Alison Wenham, and Merlin CEO Charles Caldas, who is a non-voting board member. Three non-voting observers will be appointed shortly to represent each of the three geographical blocks.
With the company incorporated and inaugural board in place, Merlin will soon finalise its members’ mandate and appoint a chairman, before getting on with the business of providing access to and protecting the global independent sector, by ensuring competitive terms for new and emerging media usages of its music.
Said Charles Caldas, Merlin CEO “The global community has delivered to Merlin a fantastic board representing a remarkably broad range of interests. Combined with Merlin's incorporation, the independents finally have the vehicle to ensure the value of their music be properly recognised and their common interests represented on a global scale.
“I am confident that the future will show the formation of Merlin as a key moment in rebalancing the business environment for independent labels.”
The inaugural board replaces Merlin’s interim board with immediate effect, and will sit for two years. After this first term new elections will be held, with all incumbent Directors eligible for re-election.
From the beginning of the second term, a rotation system will begin, whereby two members from each geographical block will be required to step down mid-term (i.e. after a year), with elections then being held to fill the newly vacated posts. These new members will be exempted from standing down at the main board elections the following year. No individual director should sit for more than four consecutive years.
The election process was overseen by independents’ trade bodies operating across the three constituent territories - A2IM/CIRPA/ADISQ in North America, IMPALA in Europe and the World Independent Network (WIN) for ROW. Geographical allocation of board positions was guided by the global distribution of recorded music sales*, resulting in the 3 x 5 system.
* Independent sector global market share 2005 is 29.0%, source Music & Copyright, Sep 13 2006. 80% of releases stat based on an amalgamation of Nielsen Soundscan figures (2005: 81.65% of total US releases were independent) and BPI figures (2005: 83% of total UK releases were independent).
** The USA and Canada combined accounts for ~37% global recorded music sales, while Europe and ROW account for ~34% and ~29% respectively. Given that this territorial split is roughly in three equal parts, the respective board positions were allocated in the same fashion (source: IFPI Global Recording Industry In Numbers 2006.)
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Merlin’s remit is to represent the global independent sector to ensure that it has open and equal access to new and emerging revenue streams, particularly where independents are being discriminated against, or deals can't be easily negotiated locally or individually.
Merlin will improve access and level the playing field with new and emerging media, rectifying the ‘poor cousin’ status of deals previously offered to independents. Operating outside the space occupied by Collecting Societies and distributors, Merlin will redress the growing assumption that, for emerging media, only the four majors need to be licensed, with the rest free to air.
A multi-national initiative in the truest sense, Merlin has already been ratified by the World Independent Network (WIN), a global trade body with trade association members from around the world, IMPALA (European Independent Music Companies Association), UK (AIM), France (UPFI), Canada (CIRPA) Germany (VUT), Norway, Japan (ILCJ), Sweden (SOM), Brazil, (Visom) Spain (UFI), New Zealand (IMNZ) and Australia (AIR) as well as marquee labels including The Beggars Group, Edel, Ministry of Sound, !K7, PIAS and members of the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) including Koch, Epitaph, Matador, Tommy Boy, as well as a string of distributors and aggregators around the globe.Merlin is a sister organisation to WIN, and was incubated by WIN as its first major global project. Merlin will operate as a stand-alone non-profit company owned by its members and based in The Netherlands and London.