signs major licence deal with indie music agency


IRISH-BASED VIDEO website has signed a major licensing deal with the agency that represents many of the world’s biggest independent music labels, giving it legitimate rights to footage of artists such as Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, White Stripes and Adele.

Its latest deal is significant because Merlin, which represents the world’s most important set of independent music rights, has not signed licensing deals with any other video music sites, including YouTube and MySpace.

For Muzu, the deal will further boost its offering, and adds to the deals it has signed in some territories with the four major labels: Universal, EMI, Sony and Warner.

Muzu chief executive and co-founder Ciarán Bollard told The Irish Times that the company, launched in July 2008, hoped to be profit-making in the UK and Ireland in the early part of 2010.

“It’s a huge deal for us, mainly because no one else has a deal with the independents,” he said. pays artists 50 per cent of all advertising revenues generated by their content. Videos by many artists covered by the deal can still be watched on YouTube, but the uploads are not legitimate and artists do not receive payment when they are played. “All of these artists have come out very vocally in anger against YouTube, and so has Merlin,” Mr Bollard said.

He added that Muzu’s status as the legitimate player of purely music content meant it secures advertising rates that are 10-15 times those secured by YouTube.

The independent sector accounts for 30 per cent of global music sales, according to Merlin. The non-profit umbrella group’s chief executive Charles Caldas said it had chosen Muzu because it recognised the value of Merlin’s rights and enabled artists to make money from their video content.

“Independent labels have found many ways to monetise their audio content but there have been very few outlets that repay the investment that it takes to create video content,” he said.

“So having an outlet that not only allows you to find a commercial way to showcase your video but also is helping and enabling you to digitise content that you might not otherwise is a really valuable opportunity for any label.”

Under the deal, Merlin artists will be able to embed the Muzu player on their official sites and social networking pages.

Muzu, backed by e-learning entrepreneur Bill McCabe, has raised more than €6 million in funding to date and employs 15 people between Dublin and Waterford. It allows users to create, watch and share music video play-lists, and has clips from concerts, documentaries and interviews.

Muzu’s founders were named as the 2009 Net Visionaries by the Irish Internet Association. The site has two million unique users. Some seven million music videos a month are played through the site and this is growing 30 per cent month-on-month, Mr Bollard said. – (Additional reporting: Reuters.)