MERLIN is theoretically an organization that looks after the rights of independent labels and independent artists. Charles Caldas is the CEO. Last month they made a high profile deal with Pandora. We knew what would happen at the time. We knew that Pandora would use the deal as evidence in Copyright Royalty Board hearings to lower ALL OF OUR RATES. And yesterday they did just that. According to the Radio and Internet News these new lower rates that Pandora has asked the Copyright Royalty Board to impose on ALL performers and labels are about half the proposed SoundExchange rates. Thanks MERLIN! Thanks Charles Caldas!
We conservatively estimate that this will save Pandora approximately $150 million a year starting in 2016. And of course this is $150 million dollars out of the pockets of rightsholders. If the 20,000 independent labels that MERLIN claims to represent are 10% of Pandora spins, this means that MERLIN just cost it’s own labels $15 million dollars a year!
Henceforth Charles Caldas will be known as “The Minus $15 Million Dollar Man”
And you have to ask why did they have to do this now?
What was the hurry?
Were labels really telling Caldas “Quick let’s cut a deal with Pandora?”
I highly doubt it.
If I were forced to bet on it, I’d say its more likely that Pandora was urging the deal. It coincides nicely with the line they’ve been privately feeding stock analysts that they’ve “made up” with the music industry.
The only company that clearly benefitted from this deal was Pandora. This is classic ego-driven music business nonsense. Put your name on a deal. No matter how bad.
Or is it even worse? This deal already looks like it’s Payola. Is money changing hands somehow? No, that would never happen between labels and broadcasters, cause that is illegal. And no label or label group would ever do anything illegal like that.