'They have done a fantastic job': Merlin's Japanese distributions up 200%

'They have done a fantastic job': Merlin's Japanese distributions up 200%

Marking two years since the opening of its Japanese office, Merlin has revealed a substantial increase in distributions to its Japan-based members. 

Chief executive Charles Caldas will outline the increase in distributions during a keynote at the 15th Tokyo International Music Market (TIMM).

The global digital rights agency for the independent label sector compared revenues collected in January to June 2018 with the prior year. The total distribution to Merlin’s Japanese independent record label members has increased by over 200% year-on-year. 

While some of this increase is down to Merlin growing its Japanese membership in the last 12 months, the rest can be attributed to average payments to members increasing by over 70% during the same period.

Still a strong physical market and the world’s second largest overall, Japan has been slower to transition to streaming than most territories. But the territory is set follow global trends and Japanese repertoire can benefit from worldwide demand for independent music. 

Merlin recently published its 10th anniversary Impact Report on global revenues for members.

Charles Caldas, CEO, Merlin, said: “Opening our Tokyo office in 2016 was a landmark in the global growth of Merlin. As well as being the world’s second largest music market, Japan has a thriving music culture with huge export potential. Our data underlines that Merlin is helping our Japanese members extract maximum value from the global demand for their repertoire.

“Much of this is down to the hard work of Haji Taniguchi and Kaoruko Hill. They have done a fantastic job in establishing Merlin’s presence in Japan and have additionally enabled Merlin members around the world to gain greater insight of the Asian market overall. I look forward to further successes in the years ahead."

Merlin is helping our Japanese members extract maximum value from the global demand for their repertoire

Charles Caldas

Merlin’s Tokyo office, based in the Ebisu district, opened in October 2016 and is managed by experienced executive Haji Taniguchi. Kaoruko Hill provides an international point of contact, supporting local independent labels and enabling them to participate in Merlin’s licensing deals, as well as liaising with colleagues in Merlin’s London, New York and Amsterdam offices.  

Merlin’s membership encompasses tens of thousands of independent labels in 57 countries across all continents. The organisation’s total membership commands in excess of 12% of the global digital recorded music market.

In 2018, Merlin has struck partnerships with Facebook, Alibaba, NetEase, Tencent and Yandex. It currently has global licensing agreements in place with 25 new generation digital music services around the world.

Taniguchi, GM, Merlin Japan said: “I am hugely proud of what we’ve achieved over the past two years. Merlin now has an established base in Japan, and it is gratifying that local independent labels are already realizing the value of Merlin membership and growing their overseas business. Most excitingly, these are still early days for streaming in our country. Indicated by the trends in Merlin’s 2018 Impact Report, the full benefits of a global digital music market are arguably still yet to come.”

Masahiro “Jack” Oishi, CEO, Danger Crue and current Merlin board member added: “Merlin has empowered independent record labels for more than a decade, and I am proud not only to be a board member but also to celebrate the work of Haji and Kaoruko in establishing our Japanese office. With the streaming market now growing across Asia, Japanese labels are in a perfect situation to benefit from Merlin’s global licensing partnerships and to build a worldwide business.”


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