Merlin appoints Jeremy Sirota as the new Chief Executive Officer

8th January 2020

  • Sirota joins from Facebook’s Music Team
  • Merlin diversifies its board, adding eight new executives from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria, the Netherlands, North America and South Korea
  • Epitaph’s Dave Hansen appointed Merlin’s Executive Chairperson

Merlin, the global digital rights agency for the world’s independent label sector, has today announced the appointment of Jeremy Sirota as the organisation’s new CEO.

Sirota, a widely respected and experienced executive in music and technology, has a proven track record for negotiating complex and strategic commercial partnerships, and for driving digital innovation across the recorded music business. Based in both New York and London, he succeeds Charles Caldas who served as Merlin’s CEO since the agency’s founding in 2007.

Sirota joins Merlin from Facebook’s Music Team, where his leadership was pivotal in helping to shape and implement the company’s digital music strategy. While at Facebook, he led the company’s efforts to license and acquire recorded music rights from independent record labels and distributors around the world, thereby enabling innovative social music features across Facebook, Instagram, Oculus and Messenger.

Sirota previously held a number of senior positions at Warner Music Group, culminating in his appointment as SVP and Head of Business & Legal Affairs for both Warner-Elektra-Atlantic (WEA), Warner’s artist and label services division, and Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA), Warner’s indie distribution arm.

In his role at ADA, Sirota helped deliver some of the largest distribution deals in the company’s history and built longstanding relationships throughout the global independent music sector—working directly with ADA’s roster of label partners, including Beggars Group, BMG, Dim Mak, Domino, Dualtone, Epitaph, Merge, Nettwerk, Partisan, Polyvinyl, Sub Pop, Tommy Boy and Triple Crown. A vocal advocate of emerging technologies and independent music, Sirota’s remit also included support for Asylum Records, and helping to establish Level Music, WMG’s distribution platform for self-releasing artists.

Prior to his work at Facebook and Warner Music Group, Sirota was an Associate at Morrison & Forster, LLP, New York, in their Technology Transactions Group. He is currently a mentor to the TechStars Music Accelerator Program.

Merlin’s senior management team is completed by Charlie Lexton (CCO) and Helen Alexander (CFO), both based in the UK, and Jim Mahoney (VP Global Operations) in the US. In addition to Sirota’s appointment, Dave Hansen will move into a new role as Executive Chairperson.

Hansen, former GM, Epitaph Records, said:

“Having committed to an incredibly rigorous and wide-reaching search, Merlin has found an exceptional individual to lead the organization forward. In addition to his experience at Facebook, Jeremy brings a deep-seated knowledge of independent music and a reputation for embracing new, exciting and transformational technologies. We believe he can build on the groundbreaking work of Charles Caldas and ensure Merlin’s membership continues to thrive in a global digital music market.”

Jeremy Sirota, CEO, Merlin, said:

“I am honored by this opportunity to lead Merlin and serve independents throughout the world. Merlin’s team of executives and employees are widely respected throughout the music and DSP communities, and I look forward to working closely with them to write the next chapter. With the digital music market potentially on the brink of another wave of transformative change, it’s vital that independents continue to have an organization that represents their interests, ensures the value of their repertoire is respected, and keeps pace with innovation.”

Martin Mills, Merlin board member and Beggars Group chairman, said:

“I’m delighted that we’ve found in Jeremy an executive with deep experience in both the tech and music worlds to build upon Charles Caldas’ exceptional work. He has all the credentials to help write Merlin's next chapter. With our new CEO, the right executive team, and a strong, newly-elected board, Merlin will continue to thrive and empower independents in this new decade.”

Merlin is also announcing today the results of its biennial board elections, with eight new executives joining the organisation’s 15-member board. 

The new incoming board members are: Alexandria Hock (Better Noise Music), Carlos Mills (Mills Records), Chan Kim (FLUXUS, Inc), Katie Alberts (Reach Records), Marie Clausen (Ninja Tune), Merida Sussex (Stolen Recordings), Michael Ugwu (Freeme Digital) and Pieter van Rijn (FUGA).

To fully reflect the organisation’s global outlook, Merlin’s board is divided into three territorial blocs with equal representation given to North America, Europe and ROW.

In first name alphabetical order, the full Merlin board is as follows:

North America

  • Alexandria Hock, Better Noise Music (US)
  • Darius Van Arman, Secretly Group (US)
  • Justin West, Secret City Records (Canada)
  • Katie Alberts, Reach Records (US)
  • Marie Clausen, Ninja Tune (US)

Europe

  • Emmanuel De Buretel, Because Group (France)
  • Horst Weidenmueller, !K7 Records (Germany)
  • Martin Mills, Beggars Group (UK)
  • Michel Lambot, PIAS Group (Belgium)
  • Pieter van Rijn, FUGA (Netherlands)

ROW

  • Carlos Mills, Mills Records (Brazil)
  • Chan Kim, FLUXUS (South Korea)
  • Masahiro “Jack” Oishi, Danger Crue (Japan)
  • Merida Sussex, Stolen Recordings (Australia)
  • Michael Ugwu, Freeme Digital (Nigeria)

Merlin’s Advisory Board is: 

  • Chris Maund (Mushroom Group)
  • Jason Peterson (Cinq Music)
  • Nando Luaces (Altafonte Network)
  • Paul Hitchman (AWAL)

ENDS

About Merlin 

Merlin is the digital licensing hub for the world’s independent music sector, with members from more than 60 countries.

Merlin offers digital music services and emerging technology companies the means to efficiently license the world’s most important and commercially successful independent music. This enables independent rightsholders to more effectively capitalise on the revenues these services generate, while ensuring that their repertoire is appropriately valued.

Merlin represents tens of thousands of independent record labels, distributors and artist management companies, including Altafonte Distribution, Armada Music, Beggars Group, Better Noise Music, Cinq Music Group, Curb Records, DangerCrue, Dim Mak, Domino, Entertainment One, Epitaph Records, FaroLatino, Foundation Media, Freeme Digital, IDJDigital, Innercat Music, !K7, Kobalt Music Recordings/AWAL, Mad Decent, mtheory, Mom + Pop, Mushroom Music, Ninja Tune, [PIAS], Pony Canyon, Redeye Distribution, Secretly Group, Space Shower Networks, Symphonic Distribution, Sub Pop and Warp Records.

Collectively, members represent over 15% of the global recorded music market.

Merlin has licensed over 25 key digital services - including Alibaba, Boomplay, Deezer, Facebook, JioSaavn, NetEase, Pandora, SoundCloud, Spotify, Tencent, and YouTube Music - and paid out to date more than $2bn to its members.

Merlin is headquartered in London, with offices in New York and Tokyo.

About IMPALA
IMPALA was established in April 2000 to represent independent music companies. 99% of Europe’s music companies are SMEs. Known as the “independents”, they are world leaders in terms of innovation and discovering new music and artists - they produce more than 80% of all new releases and account for 80% of the sector's jobs (for more information, see the features of independents). IMPALA's mission is to grow the independent music sector, return more value to artists, promote cultural diversity and entrepreneurship, improve political access and modernise perceptions of the music sector. IMPALA has its own award schemes which highlight the artistic contribution of independent music. IMPALA award winning artists include Viagra Boys who was voted winner of the last Album of the Year Award, Caribou, Agnes Obel, José González, Guadalupe Plata, The xx, Armin van Buuren, Adele, Mogwai, Metronomy, Orelsan and Andrea Bocelli.

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