Merlin, the global digital rights agency for the independent label sector has published its 10th anniversary Impact Report to celebrate the global success of its independent label membership.

The publication – available for free download here – highlights key market trends for indie labels, featuring case studies as well as data from Merlin’s annual member survey.

Findings from the report include an analysis of ½ trillion streams over four years across Merlin’s global service partners, showing a 25% higher market share for Merlin’s member repertoire on paid vs free tiers. Additionally, annual revenues have surged – Merlin will distribute $0.5bn per annum to members.

The report also notes that independent labels are seeing money from markets once considered of almost zero value – with 42% of members reporting that over half their digital revenues originate from consumption outside their home territory. Members experienced a tenfold growth in revenues from Latin American markets and an eightfold growth in revenues from Asian markets over the last three years.

In addition, the report demonstrates a significant increase in audio streaming revenues. 68% of Merlin members reporting that audio streaming currently accounts for the majority of their digital revenues – compared to just 20% in 2014.

Alice Enders, Director of Research at Enders Analysis comments: “If Merlin had not been established, numerous independent labels would simply have disappeared from sight as streaming overtook purchasing.”

The report commemorates the first decade in business for Merlin. It seeks to demonstrate how the agency’s unique structure and licensing model have enabled independent labels to compete in the digital music market. It also explains more broadly how music streaming has transformed the commercial dynamics of recorded music across the globe, unlocking the value of independent repertoires in expanding global marketplaces.

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“The advent of music streaming has transformed how independent labels operate, and how digital services perceive the value of our rights,” commented Merlin CEO Charles Caldas.

“Where once we were fragmented, we now act in unison. Where we were treated inequitably, we sit at the head of licensing discussions. Indies are not only thriving in the new market, we are leading it.”

“This situation hasn’t occurred by accident and Merlin has, I believe, played a significant role in our progress. I certainly hope this Impact Report provides at least some flavour of what we’ve achieved in the past decade and a trajectory of where we’re heading.

“Had you asked any of our founding board members in 2008 whether they’d anticipate Merlin distributing over $500m per year, or that we’d open new global markets in Latin America, Asia and China, I suspect they’d have laughed you out of the room. But that’s where we are, and what we’re building upon. And most exciting of all, it feels like we’re only getting started.”

Merlin’s members command in excess of 12% of the digital recorded music market, embodying over 20,000 independent labels and distributors from 55 countries across the globe. Members include Beggars Group, Secretly Group, Domino, Sub Pop, Epitaph, Merge, Mad Decent and more. Since 2008, Merlin has licensed key digital services and reached a number of high value copyright infringement settlements on behalf of its member.

The agency ensures these companies’ rights are appropriately valued and protected, and that they have effective access to new, emerging revenue streams.

CEO Charles Caldas is speaking at the 2018 Indie-Con Australia conference, which take place at The Hindley, Adelaide on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 of July. More information here.

Check out the Merlin 10th Anniversary video: