WIN Fair Digital Deals Declaration vs MERLIN’S “PANDOLA” Deal

If there were ever two deals and two indie music organizations to contrast and compare these would be the two. WIN and MERLIN

As A2IM reported back in July

On Wednesday, July 16th, the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), of which A2IM is a member, issued the Fair Digital Deals Declaration, a commitment by Independent labels to support fair accounting to artists. Currently, many music licensing deals include payouts covering unshared compensation, which include equity stakes, minimum revenue guarantees not related to performance, renewing advances, etc. (aka “Breakage”) — all of which are creating issues in digital licensing between services and labels (read previous A2IM item about Breakage HERE).

Meanwhile 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.

UH….  Isn’t that called payola?  Pandora apparently owns a terrestrial radio station and is an FCC broadcaster after all!

Or should we call this deal  Pandola?

So not only  did MERLIN get expertly played by Pandora and as a result ALL performers may lose almost half their SoundExchage revenue,  MERLIN’s excellent deal for Indies artists is warmed over Payola?

That’s really farsighted (sarcasm).    What’s to stop the majors from cutting the same deal with Pandora and outbidding us for airplay?   I suggest the folks at MERLIN read  Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business.  Just the first chapter.  The majors specifically used “indie promoters” and payola to lock independents out of the radio market.

So on one hand you have a deal by WIN that is farsighted, egalitarian and benefits all artists.   On the other hand you have MERLIN with their sleazy secret payola deal that could potentially screw all artists across the board.