Merlin – CEO (UK/US)

The Organization

Merlin Network is the global digital rights agency for independent record labels and independent music distributors. Structured as a collective management organization, Merlin launched in 2008 and today has offices in Amsterdam, London, New York and Tokyo. Merlin represents over 850 members from 63 countries, who collectively command over 12% of the world’s digital music market. The organization acts as a negotiating and collections body on behalf of member labels and distributors. On behalf of its members, Merlin has deals in place with major and emerging music streaming platforms and other services in multiple territories including Spotify, YouTube, Deezer, SoundCloud, Pandora and Facebook, NetEase Cloud Music, Ali Music Group, Tencent Music Entertainment and others. Merlin ensures fair sustainable deals exist between its members and music streaming services and has distributed over $2 billion to members since launch. Between April 2018 and March 2019 alone, Merlin paid to label and distributor members over $700M in revenue, plus over $130M in settlements, non-royalties and proceeds from the sale of Spotify shares.


The position can be based in either New York City or London. 

Position Summary

The CEO provides leadership to the Merlin team, its members and the independent music sector globally. The public facing role anticipates and listens to the evolving needs of members, envisions opportunities and how to seize them, and develops and executes strategies to attract and serve members. The CEO also serves as the unifying voice for the Merlin membership, and ensures fair and equitable dealings with current, emerging and future platforms in the global digital ecosystem. Merlin seeks an accomplished executive with deep experience, relationships and respect in the independent music community, experience working internationally across genres and cultures, and a track record of delivering on practical vision for staying ahead of technology.

Detailed Responsibilities
  • Serve as the primary outward facing executive, delivering on a strong commitment to label and distributor members, shepherding productive relationships with DSPs and other licensee partners, and continuing to raise the profile of Merlin by reinforcing its mission in the press, at conferences and in social media.
  • Report to the Board of Directors and serve the interests of a diverse base of label and distributor members.
  • Work closely with the board to develop a vision and strategy for the short and long-term future of Merlin.
  • Lead the conversation with DSPs and speak on behalf of Merlin’s constituents with partners and adversaries.
  • Ensure regular lines of communication with members, keeping members informed and gathering their input as appropriate.
  • Give voice to the broadest range of members across label and distributor size, stage of growth, genre, territory, culture and market maturity.
  • Directly lead and provide guidance and mentoring to the executives who lead the core functions of the organization including: member acquisition, relations & operations; negotiations, commercial business development & legal; and finance and technology.
  • Shepherd the further evolution of Merlin’s team globally and effectively hire, lead and develop staff.
  • Serve as the escalation point for all matters regarding DSP negotiations, P&L, infrastructure, technology and people management.
  • Continue to unify the Merlin members and represent members with a collective voice.
  • Oversee the creation of programs and services that attract a diversity of new members and serve Merlin’s ongoing mission.
  • Leverage the hard-won level playing field and seek further advantage for members.
  • Anticipate and define changes in the technology and deal climate affecting independent music in all major and emerging markets and across all digital channels.
  • Set standards for the organization and the industry and enable Merlin to lead the innovation conversation.
  • Explore opportunities for the organization to create infrastructure, process, alternative platforms and deal structures that benefit members in an increasingly data intensive, fast evolving environment.
  • A global executive with deep direct experience in the music industry, including an intimate knowledge of deal structures and deals in the music streaming marketplace.
  • Passion for independent labels and their position in culture and society, and empathy for their unique needs.
  • Strong understanding of technology and its impact on recorded music labels and other music rights holders.
  • Experience with music monetization in streaming, social media and other emerging uses.
  • Articulate about the value that independent music creates for technology companies, and ability to command that value in negotiations that benefit member labels and distributors.
  • Track record of fostering diversity in their organizations.
  • Intimate understanding of the current music ecosystem and evolving deal structures involved in music licensing, distribution and streaming.
  • Ability to bring people together around shared visions for an empowered future.
  • Bring both ambassadorial and negotiation skills, exercising impeccable judgement in matching style to the situation.
  • Transparent and collegial with internal colleagues and key constituents.
  • Analytics savvy executive who makes data informed decisions.
  • Available for extensive global travel as needed to represent the organization and its members.
  • Inspirational public speaker and clear communicator, able to work effectively across cultures.
  • Experience scaling a growing organization including driving revenue, managing cost, architecting and closing key deals, attracting and allocating capital and developing people and systems.
  • Strong analytical skills, with an ability to sense needs, predict market changes, and synthesize strategies that overcome threats and take advantage of opportunities.
  • Prior experience setting and executing strategy for an organization with many stakeholders.
  • High level of diplomacy, integrity and work ethic.

To express interest, or recommend a qualified candidate please contact EnterGain, the executive recruiting, talent and strategy firm, at

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