London and Oakland, CA, 6th August 2014


Merlin and Pandora Partner to Help Independent Labels and Artists Grow Their Businesses 

Agreement Creates New Capabilities To Increase Exposure and Connect with Fans 

Marks First Direct Label Deal for Pandora

Merlin, the global rights agency for the independent label sector, and Pandora (NYSE:P), the leading internet radio service, today announced a comprehensive partnership designed to help independent labels and artists grow the audiences they reach and the royalties they receive. The deal – which applies to Pandora’s business in the United States – brings together Merlin’s membership of leading independent labels with Pandora’s unmatched scale and music discovery expertise, creating new opportunities to build audiences and connect with fans.

“For the independent sector, internet radio is an increasingly important part of the digital market, and we want to see it continue to grow, and grow fast,” said Charles Caldas, CEO of Merlin. “For the thousands of labels Merlin represents, this agreement with Pandora provides a real best of both worlds scenario: a hugely important opportunity to increase our members’ revenues and access unparalleled opportunities for exposure, whilst continuing to support a collective licensing framework.” 

“This is an important step to advance Pandora’s ongoing commitment to build a vibrant and sustainable music industry,” said Brian McAndrews, CEO of Pandora. “It’s a true partnership that will grow our collective businesses, help artists reach larger audiences and give our listeners an even better music discovery experience personalized to their tastes.”

Merlin’s membership embodies over 20,000 independent record labels and distributors worldwide. According to Merlin, these labels command around a 10 percent share of the global and US streaming music markets. The new partnership will enable participating labels and the artists they represent to take advantage of the unprecedented marketing capabilities of Pandora’s connected platform. 

Key capabilities include:

  • Pandora will accelerate the discovery of new music by combining the expertise of Merlin’s participating labels with Pandora’s data from the Music Genome Project to identify select tracks for additional exposure on Pandora’s playlists targeted to the right listeners.
  • Merlin’s labels and artists will have direct access to customized metadata and insights, harnessing Pandora’s 75+ million monthly active users, 6 billion stations created and 40 billion pieces of listener “thumb” feedback. By enabling data-driven decisions, Pandora can support Merlin labels and artists across a wide range of business building activities, including selecting cities for a tour schedule, building concert set lists, or choosing a tour partner.
  • Pandora will offer customized communication channels for artists on Merlin labels to directly engage their fans and create more intimate connections.

In a rapidly changing marketplace, this is a very exciting opportunity for independents,” said Martin Mills, Chairman of Merlin and of Beggars Group. “It’s a win-win that allows us to continue our strong support for the principles of collective licensing, whilst securing valuable advantages for Merlin’s label and artist community.” 

Pandora’s founder Tim Westergren added, “We are deeply committed to harnessing the great potential of internet radio to help musicians of all career stages build their audiences. Independent music has always held a special place at Pandora. These are hardworking artists – many of whom have never received promotion or airtime on terrestrial radio – and their music deserves to be heard.” 

While specific financial terms are confidential, the agreement is structured to protect the economics of participating labels. As the partnership expands, Pandora and Merlin expect that the thousands of labels and artists involved will see their royalty payments increase significantly. 


Comments from participating labels: 

“We look forward to the Merlin-Pandora deal,” added Dave Hansen, General Manager of Epitaph and ANTI-. “This is a great opportunity for Merlin’s coalition of independent labels, along with the artists we are proud to represent, to gain additional exposure, increase revenue, and communicate directly to fans, while we continue to support the structure of the current collective license.”

“This new deal will enable Pandora to offer its listeners even more of what they already enjoy. Artists and listeners will benefit from giving extra prominence to independent music,” commented Victor Zaraya, COO, Razor & Tie 

“As an artist driven label we are excited by the Merlin-Pandora deal,” said Billy Maupin, Group General Manager at Yep Roc Music. “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.”

“I am thrilled to see the Merlin-Pandora deal come together,” said Alan Galbraith, General Manager, Wind-Up Records. “It presents opportunities for all parties and is a real statement from Pandora to the value of independent labels and artists.”



Pandora (NYSE: P) gives people music and comedy they love anytime, anywhere, through connected devices. Personalized stations launch instantly with the input of a single “seed” – a favorite artist, song, or genre. The Music Genome Project®, a deeply detailed hand-built musical taxonomy, powers the personalization of Pandora® internet radio by using musicological “DNA” and constant listener feedback to craft personalized stations from a growing collection of more than one million tracks. Tens of millions of people turn on Pandora every day to hear music they love.



Merlin is the global rights agency for the world’s most important independent music companies. 

The organisation’s members embody more than 20,000 independent record labels and distributors, including Beggars Group, Epitaph Records, Kobalt Label Services, Merge, E1, Cooking Vinyl, Armada, Yep Roc Records, Ninja Tune, Tommy Boy, Warp, Secretly Canadian, Virtual Label, [PIAS] and !K7.  These labels command around a 10% share of the US and global recorded music markets and represent many of the world’s most important independent artists. 

Merlin acts to ensure these companies have effective access to new and emerging revenue streams and that their rights are appropriately valued and protected.

Since commencing operations in May 2008, Merlin has licensed key digital services including Pandora, Spotify, Beats Music, Google Play, Rdio and Deezer and reached a number of high value copyright infringement settlements on behalf of its members with, amongst others, Limewire, XM Satellite Radio and Grooveshark.

IMPALA – Independent Music Companies Association

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