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Charles Caldas

Advance Awards Commercial Creatives Category Finalist

A paradigm shifter in the global independent music industry, Charles Caldas has earned his reputation fighting to ensure artists share in the profits from the digital music revolution. Charles was chosen by the sector to fire up digital rights agency, Merlin, in the UK in 2007. For the past 12 years, Charles has been CEO of the global not-for-profit enterprise, allowing independents to compete with the big multinational labels. While empowering artists, Charles also played a role in democratising the music industry for listeners, enabling users access to the widest range of independent music possible,  from 66 countries around the world. Today a significant force in the global music industry, Merlin represents the most commercially significant set of music rights outside of that held by the major labels. 

A long-time champion of independent music in Australia, Charles is a Monash arts graduate, and spent more than 16 years at Australia’s largest independent label Shock, including nine as CEO. Under his watch, Merlin grew to represent 20,000 independent record labels and distributors from 66 countries. In 2018 it transferred US$845 million to its members, and by the end of 2019 had paid out over $2.5Bn to its members. At Merlin, Charles struck deals with key digital services including Spotify, YouTube and Pandora. He has served on the boards of the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR) and the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) and is in demand as a speaker at conferences around the globe. Charles received IMPALA’s annual outstanding contribution award in 2013, as well as the UK’s Association of Independent Music’s “Independent Champion” award in 2019. He has been featured in multiple Billboard and Variety power lists, including Billboard’s ‘2018 and 2019 Power 100 Lists’, recognising the 100 most influential figures in the global music business.