Merlin, the global rights agency for the independent label sector, and Pandora, the leading internet radio service, announced a comprehensive partnership designed to help independent labels and artists grow the audiences they reach and the royalties they receive. The deal – which applies to Pandora’s business in the United States – brings together Merlin’s membership of leading independent labels with Pandora’s unmatched scale and music discovery expertise, creating new opportunities to build audiences and connect with fans.”For the independent sector, internet radio is an increasingly important part of the digital market, and we want to see it continue to grow, and grow fast,” said Charles Caldas, CEO of Merlin. “For the thousands of labels Merlin represents, this agreement with Pandora provides a real best of both worlds scenario: a hugely important opportunity to increase our members’ revenues and access unparalleled opportunities for exposure, whilst continuing to support a collective licensing framework.””This is an important step to advance Pandora’s ongoing commitment to build a vibrant and sustainable music industry,” said Brian McAndrews, CEO of Pandora. “It’s a true partnership that will grow our collective businesses, help artists reach larger audiences and give our listeners an even better music discovery experience personalized to their tastes.”Merlin’s membership embodies over 20,000 independent record labels and distributors worldwide. According to Merlin, these labels command around a 10 percent share of the global and US streaming music markets. The new partnership will enable participating labels and the artists they represent to take advantage of the unprecedented marketing capabilities of Pandora’s connected platform.Key capabilities include:* Pandora will accelerate the discovery of new music by combining the expertise of Merlin’s participating labels with Pandora’s data from the Music Genome Project to identify select tracks for additional exposure on Pandora’s playlists targeted to the right listeners.* Merlin’s labels and artists will have direct access to customized metadata and insights, harnessing Pandora’s 75+ million monthly active users, 6 billion Radio Station s created and 40 billion pieces of listener “thumb” feedback. By enabling data-driven decisions, Pandora can support Merlin labels and artists across a wide range of business building activities, including selecting cities for a tour schedule, building concert set lists, or choosing a tour partner.* Pandora will offer customized communication channels for artists on Merlin labels to directly engage their fans and create more intimate connections.”In a rapidly changing marketplace, this is a very exciting opportunity for independents,” said Martin Mills, Chairman of Merlin and of Beggars Group. “It’s a win-win that allows us to continue our strong support for the principles of collective licensing, whilst securing valuable advantages for Merlin’s label and artist community.”Pandora’s founder Tim Westergren added, “We are deeply committed to harnessing the great potential of internet radio to help musicians of all career stages build their audiences. Independent music has always held a special place at Pandora. These are hardworking artists – many of whom have never received promotion or airtime on terrestrial radio – and their music deserves to be heard.”While specific financial terms are confidential, the agreement is structured to protect the economics of participating labels. As the partnership expands, Pandora and Merlin expect that the thousands of labels and artists involved will see their royalty payments increase significantly.