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SoundCloud strikes deal letting the biggest indie labels make money on its site

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SoundCloud has been trying — and in some cases failing — to strike licensing deals with the biggest record labels, and today it reached a smaller but still quite important agreement. It's made a deal with Merlin, a rights group that represents over 20,000 indie labels, that'll allow its artists to start making money by sharing ad revenue with SoundCloud when they upload their own music and even when others upload their music without their permission. Though Merlin is nowhere near as large as the three major labels, it represents names that anyone into smaller artists has certainly heard of, including Beggars Group (which has Vampire Weekend), Domino (Animal Collective), and Warp Records (Aphex Twin).

These artists will also be part of SoundCloud's subscription service

The agreement will also place Merlin's artists in SoundCloud's upcoming subscription streaming service. There's little detail on what the offering will be like yet — and it's not like we're in short supply of Spotify alternatives — but SoundCloud does describe it as a "unique offering." A launch is planned for later this year.

Getting there still requires SoundCloud to overcome a few more hurdles. It currently has licensing deal with Warner Music, but The New York Times reports that talks with Universal are going slowly. As for the other major label, Sony, the situation is worse: Sony actually went so far as to pull its music from SoundCloud after negotiations broke down. Given that Sony represents artists like One Direction, it's a deal that SoundCloud is going to want to have. Sony was concerned that SoundCloud didn't give it enough opportunities to make money — but, at the very least, today's announcement is a sign that another large group of labels doesn't feel that way.