Music licensing business Merlin signs up London-based Greenberg Traurig shareholder as GC

Neil Miller takes on role last held by Merlin’s COO Charlie Lexton

Neil Miller Photo courtesy of Merlin

Music licensing company Merlin has hired Neil Miller as general counsel, re-filling a position that has been vacant since former GC Charlie Lexton took on the chief operating officer role.

Miller joins from Greenberg Traurig’s London office, where he was a shareholder in its entertainment and media practice, specialising in digital music licensing. At Merlin he will be based in the UK and sit on its executive leadership team, providing strategic guidance to the company’s business and legal affairs team.

London-headquartered Merlin is an independent digital music licensing business, working with record labels, music distributors and rights holders worldwide.

Lexton said: “Merlin is a dynamic organisation operating in a complex and ever changing legal and commercial environment. Neil’s wealth of experience across music and digital entertainment is exactly what we need to meet these challenges. He is highly respected across the industry and brings a valuable blend of long-term thinking, technical skills and impressive leadership.”

Miller arrives after three years at Greenberg Traurig. Prior to that, he spent almost four years at Facebook as an associate GC and head of music licensing outside of the US and Canada. He also had a short stint as a partner at legacy firm JAG Shaw Baker, having spent close to six years before that as GC at music platform SoundCloud.

Previously he had in-house spells at CBS Interactive as VP for international legal operations, video start-up Joost as GC and head of HR, and MTV Networks as VP for business and legal affairs. He started his legal career at London IP firm Bristows.

Jeremy Sirota, Merlin CEO, said: “Neil is an extremely talented executive. His legal and commercial expertise will ensure that Merlin can deliver on its mission of building an ethical, sustainable and indie-centric world. His leadership skills bring a new dimension to our executive team where he will make a significant contribution across Merlin, our members and partners.”

Miller will also help support Merlin’s new initiatives, including Merlin Connect, which helps emerging tech platforms access quality independent music.

He said: “As the industry continues to evolve, Merlin’s work on behalf of its independent members is more important than ever. I’m very excited to have this opportunity to support Merlin members by delivering commercially valuable and ever more creative partnerships with digital platforms around the world.”

Lexton, meantime, took on the COO role four years ago, but has been providing legal oversight in addition to his COO duties in that time. The company said its pace of growth meant it now needs a dedicated GC.

Lexton has been with Merlin for more than 16 years, having previously been managing director at artist management company City Rockers and VP for business affairs at EMI Music before that.

In other recent music-related moves, Las Vegas Sphere-owner Sphere Entertainment in February hired former CBS lawyer Laura Franco as GC, a role that also includes heading up the legal team at Madison Square Garden Entertainment. In November, music back catalogue buyer Hipgnosis Song Management appointed former BMG lawyer Jonathan Baker as GC, and in July last year, Taylor Swift’s company 13 Management hired Venable partner Douglas Baldridge as GC. 

News of Miller's departure from Greenberg Traurig, meanwhile, comes hard on the heels of its hire of a pair of real estate finance lawyers in London from Cadwalader Wickerhsam & Taft.

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