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Charles Caldas, the only CEO that the independent-label collective Merlin has ever known, announced today that he will step down from his post at the end of 2019, after more than 12 years at the helm of the global rights organization.

He will continue his current duties until then and work with the Merlin board to ensure a smooth transition. During his tenure, Caldas has overseen the expansion of Merlin into a global organization, with an experienced management team based in offices in Amsterdam, London, New York and Tokyo. Merlin now represents over 850 members from 63 countries around the globe, who collectively command over 12% of the world’s digital music market. Merlin announced this week that it had distributed over $2 billion to members since launch.

Under his leadership, Merlin has struck deals with the world’s leading digital music platforms, including Spotify, YouTube, Deezer, Soundcloud, Pandora and Facebook as well as a series of strategic non-exclusive licensing partnerships in China with NetEase Cloud Music, Ali Music Group and Tencent Music Entertainment.

Merlin has also returned significant revenues to the independent sector via several successful copyright infringement actions, the Warner Music/Parlophone divestment agreement, and not least, the sale of Merlin’s shares in Spotify for an estimated $125 million, all of which was distributed back to its members.

In a statement, Caldas said, “Having the chance to contribute to taking Merlin from a raw idea hatched by a few indie visionaries to the fast-growing global enterprise it is today has truly been a privilege. What we have all achieved over the past 12 years is remarkable, and the revenues we are now generating were unthinkable back in 2007. This has easily been the most rewarding work of my life, and for that opportunity I thank our members, our board, and particularly my incredible team for their support.”

Merlin Chairman Dave Hansen said, “Over the past 12 years, Charles in his role as the CEO of Merlin changed everything for independents. His vision, leadership and hard work helped Merlin forge a path towards true independence for all of our members. Charles has built a great foundation with an amazing team and Merlin will continue to be strong in the future. We wish him great success and happiness as he moves onto his next chapter at the end of this year.”

Martin Mills, founder of Beggars Group and Merlin Chairman from 2010-2017, said: “Merlin and the whole independent community owe Charles a huge debt of thanks for what he has achieved for and with us, without which we’d have a slippery slope instead of a level playing field. We wish him all the very best in his next venture, which we trust will be musical, and within our universe. Merlin will continue to go from strength to strength, thanks largely to the structure and team that Charles has put in place. “

After running the indie label Shock Records in his native Australia, Caldas migrated to the U.K. in 2007 to become Merlin’s CEO and launched it in May 2008. He received IMPALA’s annual outstanding contribution award in 2013. He was included in Variety’s International Music Leaders lists in 2018 and 2019, and Billboard’s International Power List in 2014 and 2017, as well as the Billboard Power 100 in 2018 and 2019.