Pandora has established a partnership with independent rights group Merlin that marks the Internet radio company’s first direct deal with record labels. Rather than pay statutory rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board, Pandora will pay rates negotiated with Merlin. In addition, the deal opens a line of communication between Pandora and labels that will help introduce Merlin’s music to listeners.
The U.S.-only deal will provide more than 20,000 labels and distributors with greater access to Pandora data and listeners. In an interview with Billboard, Merlin CEO Charles Caldas calls the deal “a huge opportunity to provide our members previously unavailable and unparalleled access” to Pandora’s 77 million monthly users.
Caldas added the partnership will financially benefit Merlin’s artists and labels. Although no financial details were made available, he suggested the terms are no worse than the statutory rates previously received. “We wouldn’t do any deal where there was any risk we were going to get paid less.”