Merlin, the global digital rights agency for indie labels, announced this week that it has sold its entire equity stake in Spotify and has already shared the proceeds with its members. Speaking with Music Week, Merlin CEO Charles Caldas said Spotify’s switch to a public company compelled the rights body to move quickly on the divestiture of its stake.
“Merlin is an organisation that exists solely to maximise the value of our members’ rights and keeps only the monies that it needs to operate,” Caldas said. “It is outside of Merlin’s remit to hold a long-term equity position in a publicly-listed company where there is a liquid and transparent market for that equity. We therefore worked quickly to liquidate our interest in Spotify and have passed the proceeds to our eligible members.”
When reached by Billboard, a Merlin representative confirmed the sell-off but declined to offer details on the size of the proceeds or how they were distributed to members, who will now be tasked with sharing the windfall with their artists. It is also unclear how big of a stake Merlin had in Spotify at the time of sale.
Earlier this month, Sony Music and Warner Music announced they had sold off large chunks of their Spotify shares as well, though amounts vary. Sony Corp. unloaded half of its 5.707 percent stake, netting roughly $761 million, while WMG said it had sold about 75 percent of its holdings, receiving about $400 million.
Both majors said they would share proceeds, though in different ways: Sony will share that money with both its acts and indie labels, regardless of whether its contracts mandate it. WMG will share the proceeds with its artists on the same basis it does for digital revenue; but will only share proceeds with distributed labels if their contracts call for it.
Universal Music hasn’t revealed whether it plans to sell any of its Spotify stake.