Twitch strikes strategic partnership with indie label agency Merlin

Tracy Chan, VP, Head of Music at Twitch

Amazon-owned livestreaming platform Twitch has struck a new agreement with independent label agency Merlin.

Merlin says that the partnership “recognizes the power of independent artists and their impact in the Twitch community”, and will create “revenue earning opportunities for Merlin members and their artists”.

Merlins membership includes prominent independent music companies such as Beggars Group, Group, Dim Mak, Empire, MNRK Music Group, Epitaph Records, Foundation Media, IDOL, Mushroom Music, Ninja Tune, [PIAS] and many others.

Today’s deal marks Twitch’s latest big move in the music industry, following last week’s news that Universal Music Group (UMG) has expanded its agreements with both Amazon Music and Twitch.

It also follows the news in September that Twitch and Warner Music Group (WMG) struck what the two companies said at the time was a “first-of-its-kind” partnership, marking the platform’s first partnership with a major record company.

According to a media release announcing today’s news, the partnership will see Merlin lean “into Twitch’s increased focus on music-centric programming”.

The new relationship, says Merlin, will also expand direct communications between Merlin members and Twitch, and open up “dedicated support” for those members and their artists to grow their audience bases, and unlock marketing opportunities.

The agreement will also “unlock live experiences worldwide” according to the companies, and will create artist and label marketing opportunities for Merlin members via The Collective, Twitch’s recently launched artist incubator program.

Twitch has been getting closer and closer to the music business over the past two years, with the platform stating that it has become an “increasingly popular way for artists to create content, interact with their fans, generate earnings, and build community”.

In addition to Twitch’s partnerships with WMG, UMG and now Merlin, in September, The National Music Publishers’ Association stuck an agreement with the platform to “work together to build productive partnerships between the service and music publishers”.

The deal with the NMPA came two months after Twitch said it was ‘disappointed’ with the music publishing industry after being hit with 1,000 copyright infringement claims.

The company told its users in an email that these new DMCA takedown notifications included “about 1,000 individual claims” over the use of copyrighted music played in the background of recorded VODs (on-demand videos).

Twitch has since created a process that enables participating music rights holders, now including Merlin and its members, to report certain unauthorized uses of their music.

Meanwhile, in September 2020, the platform unveiled Soundtrack by Twitch, a rights-cleared music service for livestreams via partnerships with a number of labels and distributors.

At launch, Soundtrack had more than a million tracks available from over 30 music companies, including the likes of UnitedMasters, DistroKid, CDBaby, Anjunabeats, SoundCloudEMPIRE, Future Classic and Nuclear Blast.

“It really is an exciting time to be an independent artist.”

Tracy Chan, Twitch

“It really is an exciting time to be an independent artist,” said Tracy Chan, VP, Head of Music at Twitch.

“The relationship between fan and artist has been transformed, and we’re proud to offer a new pathway to success for so many artists.

“Our partnership with Merlin affords their members’ independent artists an on-ramp to our devoted and engaged Twitch community.

“We are grateful for the collaborative work of our colleagues at Merlin and know that, together, we can achieve great things for a sector of the music community that has never been more influential.”

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Twitch for this groundbreaking deal.”

Jeremy Sirota, Merlin 

Jeremy Sirota, Merlin CEO, added: “We’re thrilled to collaborate with Twitch for this groundbreaking deal.

“We’ve been engaged in conversations with Twitch since the day I started at Merlin, and I’m pleased that our team found a path for Merlin members and their artists to better engage fan communities across the Twitch ecosystem, whether in music, gaming or beyond.

“Merlin members are excited to lean into this opportunity on behalf of their artists.”Music Business Worldwide

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