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Daily Archives: January 13, 2021

Merlin: Strategically Guiding Independents During a Year of Unprecedented Upheaval

NEW YORK, Jan. 13, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — 2020 was a disruptive year for the world. We all stood witness to a global pandemic that shook the entire music ecosystem, virtually shut down the live industry, and drove labels and distributors to explore the boundaries of ingenuity and creativity. It was also a year in which artists used an increasing array of new technologies to connect with fans and build new audiences. During a year of uncertainty and change, Merlin—the largest and most trusted digital licensing partner for independents—was unwavering in its role to guide, enable, and work tirelessly on behalf of its members across the globe.

Last year started as a year of change for Merlin. In January, Jeremy Sirota took over as the organization’s second-ever CEO, succeeding Charles Caldas, who had served in the role for 12 years. Yet only two months in, the world started to recognize the true spread of Covid. With support from the Merlin team, the Board, and Dave Hansen, the newly-appointed Executive Chairperson, Sirota guided Merlin through a tumultuous year that also brought significant member and revenue growth, new partnerships, deepened relationships, and new initiatives.

With Covid as an ever-present concern, Merlin amplified its role to better support its members. It automated financial processes to ensure faster payments, migrated to a new and streamlined reporting system, and instituted more frequent member communications. The Analytics team issued benchmarking analyses for key digital partners to help its members understand the potential impact of Covid. And Merlin strategized and supported Apple’s $50 million Covid fund, which accrued to the benefit of independents all around the world.

To ensure the greatest impact and global reach for its membership, Merlin heightened its focus on closing new deals and expanding its partnerships. It was the first partner to sign a sound recording agreement with Snap and entered into a deal with the short-form entertainment platform Triller. Merlin also renewed its partnership with Tencent to deepen its relationships in Asia for its members.

Merlin has always had a positive working relationship with Apple, including ongoing dialogue with its key stakeholders around the world; but, in 2020, Merlin was pleased to expand that relationship to include a commercial deal that its members can opt into. Currently, Merlin has more than a dozen members participating in the Merlin-Apple deal. And, with over 30 deals now in place, Merlin looks forward to striking more deals with new digital partners in 2021 to better serve its members.

As its deals expanded across the globe, so did Merlin’s membership. The organization welcomed 81 new members in 2020, with first-time members joining from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Peru, Singapore, Slovakia, and the United Arab Emirates. Merlin saw new members join from virtually every part of the world, such as Amuse (Sweden), Sua Música (Brazil), OurTube (Colombia), Rebeat (Austria), One Digital (Singapore), Qanawat (U.A.E.), Euphoria Media (Hong Kong), MAD Solutions (Nigeria), Videjo (Slovakia), Deliver My Tune (India), Superstar (Germany), Chrysalis Records (UK), Viper Recordings (UK), DistroKid (US), Many Hats Endeavors (US), and Amorphous Records (US), as well as a number of new members from Japan including Avex, Amuse Inc., Bandai Namco, FABTONE, For Life Music, NexTone, Musicmine, and Yoshimoto.

During a year of incredible growth, Merlin nearly doubled the size of its team to better serve its membership. This included growing its New York office and expanding its teams across the organization, including Business & Legal Affairs, Member Relations, a rebranded Commercial Partnerships department, Finance & Reporting, and Analytics. As a company poised at the junction of music and technology, Merlin also grew its Technology team to continue to deliver best-in-class services, new tools, and improved platforms. This growth will be further sustained as Merlin hires a Director of Business Development in New York, another team member for Member Relations / Commercial Partnerships in New York, and expands its physical presence in Southeast Asia with a new hire.

In addition, 2020 saw a number of promotions on the Merlin team. Jim Mahoney, who served as Vice President of Global Operations, was promoted to SVP, Member & Partner Success; Chris Tarbet was promoted to Director, Commercial Partnerships; Chaida Kapfunde rose to Director, Technology & Business Solutions; and Sim Virdi was elevated to Product Manager.

The Board that advises Merlin—which is elected by and from the members—started their terms in 2020 and represents the most diverse board in the organization’s history, with representation from thirteen countries.

Throughout 2020, Merlin continued to play a critical role in supporting independents, especially in these challenging times. The Merlin team stayed focused on its mission: enabling its members to own their future so they can compete at the highest levels. This month, Merlin launched a new brand, a new website, and a deepened usage of social media as a means to showcase its members. This includes highlighting Merlin members and their artists’ successes, sharing news about members, and posting interviews with current members.

On January 13, 2021, Merlin held a virtual Celebrate Music public event, inviting members, partners, the media, trade associations, and all interested parties to attend and celebrate Merlin, its members, and everything independents accomplished last year — as well as what is to come in the year ahead.

As 2021 gets started, Merlin is excited to find innovative and forward-looking ways to continuously better serve its current members —as well as new members to come.

Dawn Kamerling
The Press House
(646) 322-4903

Sabin Vaccine Institute Funds Researchers to Investigate COVID-19 Misinformation, Design Solutions to Increase Vaccine Acceptance

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) announced today that it has awarded grants to research teams in four countries to explore the social drivers of COVID-19 misinformation, and its impact on routine immunization acceptance and the acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The grants are part of Sabin’s Social and Behavioral Interventions for Vaccination Acceptance Small Grants Program, which provides funding to researchers in low- and middle-income countries to better understand the social drivers of vaccination and design small-scale interventions to assess their impact on vaccination acceptance.

Five research teams in India, Kenya, Pakistan and Uganda will receive up to $30,000 to conduct this research and pilot a small-scale intervention in their respective communities over a period of 10 months.

Through this support, Sabin is encouraging collaborative, on-the-ground relationships between academic researchers, health officials and local communities. Grantees will have the opportunity to build relationships and have impactful conversations about their research and potential applications of social science for immunization with the Sabin-led interdisciplinary Vaccination Acceptance Research Network, an international group of social scientists and public health experts addressing vaccine acceptance and demand. Sabin will also support each research team in the compilation and dissemination of an open access journal publication, accessible to the communities in which the research is conducted. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all components of the projects will be conducted virtually to ensure the safety of the research teams and the communities they work with.

“It is more important than ever to better understand vaccine acceptance in low- and middle-income countries,” said Kaitlin Christenson, vice president of Vaccine Acceptance & Demand at Sabin. “The expected introduction of a COVID-19 vaccine furthers the need to learn more about driving acceptance and demand for vaccines and to work with community immunization programs on intervention strategies, while continuing to improve overall immunization uptake.”

The 2020 Sabin grantees include:

In India, Dr. Rajeev Seth, MBBS, MD, DNB, a senior consultant pediatrician leading Bal Umang Drishya Sanstha, a non-profit organization in New Delhi focused on child health and welfare for marginalized children, will lead a team of researchers to study community health worker perceptions of and misinformation surrounding vaccines. Co-investigators from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, represented by Baldeep Dhaliwal, MPH, and Dr. Anita Shet, MD, from the Department of International Health within the International Vaccine Access Center, will collaborate with Dr. Seth and a team of researchers on the project. The virtual study will employ multi-pronged community health worker interventions in the Mewat district of Haryana, India, to address barriers to vaccine acceptance.

In Kenya, Dr. Benson Wamalwa, MSc, PhD, research scientist and lecturer from the University of Nairobi, will lead a team to virtually study COVID-19 misinformation in trusted social networks with the goal of better understanding perceptions of COVID-19 and the community’s willingness to accept a COVID-19 vaccine in Tans Nzoia, Kenya. The research team will then implement and evaluate an intervention that seeks to debunk COVID-19 misinformation through teleconsultations. Kenya Registered Nurse Chrysanthus Wamela, chief registrar of the maternal neonatal and child health unit of AMUA, joins the team as the co-investigator guiding the project.

In Pakistan, Abdul Momin Kazi, MPH, MBBS, assistant research professor in pediatrics and child health at Aga Khan University in Karachi, will lead a virtual research project to study the perceptions and barriers of childhood vaccination amongst health care workers and caregivers at a peri-urban site in Karachi. The research team will also explore the role of mobile health-based interventions and social media on improving childhood immunization during COVID-19. Dr. Fauzia Aman Malik, PhD, MSc, special advisor to the dean for global health research initiatives at Yale University, will serve as the co-investigator on the project.

Also in Pakistan, Rubina Qasim, MSc, a lead researcher and lecturer at Dow University of Health Science in Karachi, will lead a research team exploring misinformation surrounding COVID-19 and vaccination amongst urban slum dwellers in Landhi Town, Karachi. Following their research, the team will employ a co-design approach, working with community members to design and implement an appropriate intervention addressing COVID-19 misinformation and its impact on the acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Mohammad Tahir Yousafzai, PhD, consultant epidemiologist and senior instructor at Aga Khan University, joins the project as the co-investigator.

In Uganda, Dr. Freddy Kitutu, PhD, a lecturer of health systems, pharmacist, and researcher and dean of the School of Health Sciences at Makerere University, will lead a team to study the prevalence and effect of misinformation in Buikwe District. Following their research, the team will train and empower community influencer groups to address COVID-19 misinformation and vaccine hesitancy. The virtual study will explore dialogue-based social mobilization intervention through community groups and influencers. Jacquellyn Nambi Ssanya, MPH, from Makerere University School of Public Health joins the project as the co-investigator.

About the Sabin Vaccine Institute

The Sabin Vaccine Institute is a leading advocate for expanding vaccine access and uptake globally, advancing vaccine research and development, and amplifying vaccine knowledge and innovation. Unlocking the potential of vaccines through partnership, Sabin has built a robust ecosystem of funders, innovators, implementers, practitioners, policy makers and public stakeholders to advance its vision of a future free from preventable diseases. As a non-profit with more than two decades of experience, Sabin is committed to finding solutions that last and extending the full benefits of vaccines to all people, regardless of who they are or where they live. At Sabin, we believe in the power of vaccines to change the world. For more information, visit www.sabin.org and follow us on Twitter, @SabinVaccine.

Media Contact:
Mary Beth Wooden
Sabin Vaccine Institute
+1 (202) 842-5025
press@sabin.org

Man electrocuted in water squatter settlement, Labuan

A 26-year-old man was electrocuted near a wooden bridge at the water squatter settlement of Saguking, here, late last night.

The deceased, a Malaysian permanent resident, was found by a villager passing through the bridge around 11 pm and immediately alerted the police.

Acting Labuan police chief, DSP Mohd Ibrahim Mohd Ghani said police could not rule out any criminal element in his death as the investigation was still ongoing.

“We received a report at 2.56 am on the discovery of the body. Upon checking, we found a small bush fire near the scene, and the man was confirmed to have been electrocuted after the autopsy conducted on him,” he told Bernama.

Meanwhile, a 36-year-old lorry driver was found dead on his bed on Monday morning, believed to have committed suicide by drinking bleach.

“The body was discovered after a police report was lodged over decomposition odour from the man’s house,” Mohd Ibrahim said.

The deceased lived in the rented house at SK 36, Kampung Sungai Keling and sources told police the man was last seen on Saturday (Jan 9).

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Man electrocuted in water squatter settlement, Labuan

A 26-year-old man was electrocuted near a wooden bridge at the water squatter settlement of Saguking, here, late last night.

The deceased, a Malaysian permanent resident, was found by a villager passing through the bridge around 11 pm and immediately alerted the police.

Acting Labuan police chief, DSP Mohd Ibrahim Mohd Ghani said police could not rule out any criminal element in his death as the investigation was still ongoing.

“We received a report at 2.56 am on the discovery of the body. Upon checking, we found a small bush fire near the scene, and the man was confirmed to have been electrocuted after the autopsy conducted on him,” he told Bernama.

Meanwhile, a 36-year-old lorry driver was found dead on his bed on Monday morning, believed to have committed suicide by drinking bleach.

“The body was discovered after a police report was lodged over decomposition odour from the man’s house,” Mohd Ibrahim said.

The deceased lived in the rented house at SK 36, Kampung Sungai Keling and sources told police the man was last seen on Saturday (Jan 9).

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Number of evacuees in Sabah, Sarawak continues to rise

The flood situation in Sabah and Sarawak has worsened with an increase in the number of evacuees, while the opposite situation is reported in Johor, Pahang and Kelantan this evening.

A check at infobanjir.water.gov.my this afternoon found Sungai Padas in Beaufort, Malihah in Kuching; Sungai Jelai in Lipis and Sungai Pahang in Lubuk Paku, Maran and in Serambi, Pekan, Pahang; as well as Sungai Golok in Kuala Jambu, Kelantan still recording readings above the danger level.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) forecasts rain and thunderstorms to continue to hit Sarawak and Sabah until Jan 19.

In SABAH, the number of flood evacuees has increased to 1,054 people as at 4 pm today, with all of them housed in eight temporary relief centres (PPS) in three districts, namely, Kota Marudu, Pitas and Beaufort.

According to a statement from the Sabah Disaster Management Committee Secretariat, the number of flood victims in four PPS in Kota Marudu, namely, Kampung Asin-Asin hall, Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Taritipan, SK Advent Damai and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Tandek has increased to 885 people.

In Pitas, 145 people are housed in three PPS in the district, while the number of evacuees placed in Datuk Seri Panglima Mohd Dun Banir hall, Beaufort remained at 24.

Meanwhile, heavy rains on the east coast of Sabah have caused five villages in Lahad Datu to be flooded. Thus far, four districts in Sabah, namely Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beaufort and Lahad Datu, involving 101 villages, have been affected by the floods, but thus far no evacuees are reported in Lahad Datu.

In SARAWAK, Sarawak Disaster Management Committee Secretariat head, Major (PA) Ismail Mahedin said that the number of residents evacuated to PPS has increased to 385 people, of which 332 are housed in six PPS.

There are four new PPS opened today, namely the Bimajaya recreational hall which houses 75 people, Taman Malihah multipurpose hall (187), Batu Kawa shophouses (60) and Kampung Batu 1 multipurpose hall in Miri accommodating seven people.

In JOHOR, the weather conditions have improved allowing three PPS to be closed, leaving 30 centres still operating as at 3.30 this afternoon.

Johor Health and Environment Committee chairman R. Vidyananthan said that following the closures, the number of people affected by floods remained at 2,999.

However, Kota Tinggi remained the district with the highest number of evacuees at 2,161 people followed by Johor Bahru (624), Kluang (121), Segamat (76) and Pontian (17).

In PAHANG, the number of flood victims this afternoon dropped to 14,360 people who are still accommodated at 131 PPS compared with 16,292 people recorded this morning.

The social Welfare Department Disaster Info Portal reported that Temerloh recorded 6,080 evacuees followed by Pekan (3,267), Maran (2,066), Bera (1,633) and Kuantan (792).

Three districts that were previously severely affected by the floods that started on Jan 3 have also showed improvement, with Lipis recording 353 evacuees, Jerantut (106) and Raub (63).

In KELANTAN, the number of flood victims involving the Pasir Mas district has dropped to 58 people at 3 pm compared with 84 reported this morning. All the victims are housed at PPS at SK Tok Deh, Pasir Mas.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

253 individuals detained for breaching MCO : Ismail Sabri

— A total of 253 individuals were detained by the police for breaching the Movement Control Order (MCO) yesterday, said Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

He said of the total detained, 252 people were issued compounds while one was remanded.

Among the offences of flouting MCO regulations include not wearing face masks (115), failing to provide equipment to record customer details (88), premises operating beyond permitted operation hours without permission (23), entertainment centre activities (16) and failing to comply with physical distancing (11),” he said in a statement on the progress of the MCO implementation today.

Ismail Sabri said the Ops Benteng carried out at the the country’s borders yesterday managed to detain 18 illegal immigrants, three skippers and seize seven land vehicles.

In addition, a total of 111 roadblocks were conducted yesterday.

He said the compliance operations task force to monitor and enforce compliance with the MCO’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) made 47,237 inspections yesterday.

He said the enforcement team of the Construction Industry Development Board had inspected 19 construction sites nationwide and all sites complied with the SOPs.

Ismail Sabri said the enforcement team of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs had conducted daily monitoring on the supply of 11 types of goods in 747 business premises such as retailers (552), wholesalers (166) and manufacturers (29).

“Overall, the supply of essential goods is sufficient and able to meet the needs of the country,” he said.

In line with the MCO’s implementation in six states, the Conditional MCO in another six other states, and Recovery MCO in two states starting today, Ismail Sabri advised the public to always take care of their safety, comply with SOPs, practise self-control as well as follow the instructions of the authorities.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Water issue: See you in court, Penang CM tells Kedah MB

— The Penang state government is prepared to see Kedah Menteri Besar, Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor in court over the raw water charge issue in protecting the state’s riparian water rights.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said Kedah did not have exclusive rights over Sungai Muda, in fact, part of the river belonged to Penang, hence there was no basis for the Kedah Menteri Besar to claim payment from Penang for abstracting water from Sungai Muda.

“We are ready to meet the Menteri Besar in court if the Kedah government wants to take legal action over the raw charge issue that has been raised,” he said in a statement, here, today.

“The fact that Sungai Muda flows through Penang has been documented in the Kedah and Penang (Alteration of Boundary) Act 1985 (Act 325) and stipulated as an Act in Article 2 of the Federal Constitution,” he added.

Prior to this, the Kedah government reportedly did not dismiss the possibility of taking the raw water charge claim issue against Penang to court if the issue could not be resolved.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency