SoundCloud inks licensing deal with 20,000 indie labels

SoundCloud continues to lend a hand to independent artists, and today the music site announced a royalty agreement with Merlin. While the name may not ring a bell, Merlin works with 20,000 indie labels and distributors including Beggars Group (Vampire Weekend), Secretly Group (Bon Iver), Domino (Animal Collective), Kontor Records (Tiësto) and more. Merlin works with smaller outfits to negotiate things like royalties and licensing, which is exactly what it's done here with SoundCloud. The deal means that on top of being able to pipe in content from labels and distro, the streaming repository will offer compensation when tunes are played. "You'll also be able to discover and listen to more new tracks from the best independent label creators on the planet, safe in the knowledge they'll now have the opportunity to get paid while you listen," a blog post announcing the deal explains.

SoundCloud already signed a deal with Warner Music Group alongside a projected 2015 launch for its own streaming service. However, it's having a hard time convincing Universal and Sony to join in as well. Before going after the proper paperwork, SoundCloud drew the ire of labels for hosting copyrighted material without proper permission. In fact, just last month Sony pulled songs from Hozier, Adele and others after talks stalled. The site currently offers a premium option for creators to publish and share their work with ad platform that sends revenue back to the labels and performers.

When the advertisements were announced in August, word of a paid tier that would nix the distractions also circulated. If SoundCloud is indeed prepping its own service, locking down a load of indie artists and one major label is a good start, but it'll need the catalogs of Sony and Universal to become a really attractive option for listeners. Across the web and mobile, SoundCloud tallies 175 million monthly users so it certainly has some listeners' attention.