Today, Spotify announced a new multi-year licensing deal with Merlin, the “global music rights agency” at the helm of independent music. Following a recent partnership with Universal Music Group that allows the service to offer an exclusive two-week embargo on select releases, the streaming platform will now allow Merlin’s 20,000 independent labels a similar option to restrict new albums to the site’s paying subscribers for the same two-week window.
The agency, which currently represents indie behemoths Beggars Group (Matador, 4AD, Rough Trade, XL, Young Turks), Secretly Group (Secretly Canadian, Jagjaguwar, Dead Oceans, Numero), Domino, Merge, Epitaph/Anti, Sub Pop, and Warp, among many others, has enormous sway in the independent music world. Together, Merlin’s clients make up about 12% of the streaming market as a whole, with the rest overwhelmingly controlled by major labels like UMG. This is huge for the future of free, ad-supported streaming options, which still constitute an overwhelming majority of Spotify’s sustained userbase.
Spotify has yet to negotiate a similar deal with Sony and Warner, the other two major labels.