Pandora makes first direct deal with artists, comes to terms with Merlin indie group

By Daniel S Levine,

Pandora has heard from countless artists who complain about not getting their royalties and must have been tired of it. So, the Internet radio service cut its first ever deal directly with artists and even giving them preferential treatment over others.

The company struck a deal with Merlin, which represents over 20,000 independent labels worldwide. According to CNet, the deal includes a provision that will match Merlin artists with listeners and then sharing the metadata of listeners’ activity with musicians directly.

"In a world where it's very difficult to get onto terrestrial radio, a deal like this gives us an incredible opportunity to get our music in front of an enormous amount of people,” Merlin CEO Charles Caldas told The Associated Press. “The data that comes out of the back of this should also enhance our business.”

This deal comes nearly two years after 125 pop stars signed a letter to Pandora, blasting the company for low royalty payments. Last summer, Pink Floyd wrote an op-ed slamming the company. Wednesday’s deal is the first move from Pandora to fix that relationship with artists.

Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews told the AP that the deal will not have a “major impact on costs.”

“Nobody is going to be worse off under this deal,” Caldas told CNet. “Merlin is not going to do any deals that would diminish the value of our artists.”

Artists on Merlin labels include Arcade Fire, Bad Religion, Lenny Kravitz and many others. The labels make up 10 percent of total music consumption worldwide.

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