Merlin Reports iTunes #1 In Royalty Payments For Independents

Jimmy Haas

by Jimmy Haas

Published May 16, 2013


Merlin, the independent label collective formed to compete with major labels, has released the results of a survey taken by its 20,000 labels. The survey sought to understand where independent musicians are receiving their revenue. The results of the survey show that while streaming is growing rapidly, digital downloads from iTunes are still contributing the majority of royalty payments to independent artists.

As reported by TechCrunch, although some artists found that their streaming revenues had increased by as much as 100%, the overall percentage of income was still less than 25% for over half of the artists. However, this does not mean that downloads have decreased with the rising usage of streaming. Most artists saw an increase in digital download sales, even though the increases were not as large as streaming. This is good news as it means that, for the most part, digital sales are not being cannibalized by streaming services. Though streaming is still not a major source of revenue for most artists, Spotify did manage to place second overall, beating out Amazon MP3, which previously held the second place spot. Merlin would not, however, give specific breakdowns of percentages for each.

Merlin praised services such as iTunes and Spotify for their ability to provide music fans with access to more independent music than ever before. And although Merlin has 20,000 labels working together, they still only account for 10% of the music market.

Merlin CEO Charles Caldas spoke about companies entering the digital music market, such as the new Google Play Music All Access, that were seeking to maintain major label dominance. He said, “But the ecosystem is fragile: power is more concentrated than ever, and we are seeing an attempted land grab by the largest companies for digital market shares as they try to recreate the old-market advantages they are clearly losing in the digital space. Any digital service that comes to market pre-shaped to satisfy the demands of the largest companies, and without understanding this new consumer-led dynamic, is bound to fail. And in this delicate phase of the business, that is bad news for us all."

Read the full results of the survey below.

2013 Merlin Survey

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