Indie licensing agency Merlin has promoted its chief commercial officer and general counsel Charlie Lexton to chief operating officer – a new role for the organisation, working alongside CEO Jeremy Sirota. “Charlie is part of Merlin’s founding team and has been pivotal to Merlin’s success. His promotion to COO ensures he remains central to our future,” said Sirota in a statement.

Lexton has given an interview to Billboard alongside the announcement. “We’re significantly enhancing our deal-making capacity. Part of it is addressing the organic growth of the business. And part of it is to address the number of new opportunities that are out there in the market and get to deals as quickly as humanly possible,” he said.

Talking of indies, deals and digital services, Midia Research has put out some new analysis claiming that “independents grew fastest on Spotify in 2019” – with the twist that it’s fully independent artists and ‘other independent labels’ outside Merlin that grew the fastest. The analysis was sparked by a line in Spotify’s annual report revealing that in 2019, UMG, Sony, WMG and Merlin accounted for 82% of Spotify streams, down from 85% the year before. “What emerges is a hierarchy of dramatically different growth rates, ranging from just 11% for Merlin labels through to a dramatic 48% for independent artists and an even more impressive 58% for ‘other independent labels’,” reported Midia.

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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