Harrison trounces performers and labels with MERLIN deal. Congratulations.
In the past I’ve had rather unkind things to say about Pandora and their chief legal strategist Chris Harrison. But today I’d like to sincerely congratulate them on a game well played. Pandora and Harrison have successfully outflanked performers by exploiting us where we were weakest (and stupidest). That weak spot? The independent label rights licensing association known as MERLIN.
MERLIN led by Charles Caldas represents over 20,000 independent labels. In a jaw-dropping bonehead move ,Merlin cut a direct deal with Pandora to license songs at about 1/2 the rate proposed by Sound Exchange IF Pandora plays Merlin songs more often than everyone else. Isn’t that called payola? Pandora is an FCC broadcaster after all!
We at the Trichordist knew what would happen next. Pandora would present this as evidence of a “willing seller” rate and then ask the Copyright Royalty Board to IMPOSE this rate on EVERYONE (even those of us that never asked Charles Caldas to represent us). Yesterday we learned that this is exactly what Pandora did. How did we predict this? We’re not particularly smart it’s just that this is exactly the same move that Harrison used when he was at DMX. You had to be pretty dim to not see this coming. Apparently MERLIN did recently part ways with a turnip truck.
Fool me once shame on you.
Fool me twice shame on Charles Caldas.
Congratulations Pandora! Congratulations Chris Harrison. Well played sirs, well played.