Apple’s new subscription music streaming service, Apple Music, was introduced at WWDC several weeks ago. Shortly after it was announced, it was revealed that Apple would be offering a three month free trial period of the service, during which they would be paying no royalties to labels, artists, or rights owners. Apple was quick on the draw to change this policy in response to an open letter from Taylor Swift criticizing the move. The company agreed to pay royalties during the free trial period, a move which pleased Swift and a number of others in the music industry, including a whole host of indie artists and labels that are jumping aboard after Apple’s policy change.
Late last night, Billboard reported that Apple struck deals with prominent indie distributor Beggars Group and Merlin, a global music rights agency that represents 20,000 indie labels and distributors to stream their music on the service. Beggars Group, which is comprised of labels 4AD, XL Recordings, Matador, and Rough Trade, who are responsible for such popular acts as The Prodigy, Arcade Fire, pop sensation Adele, and indie darlings Radiohead. Merlin is a non profit organization for independent labels and musicians, with a catalog of over 3 million tracks from labels such as Epitaph, Victory Records, and Ninja Tune.
Beggars Group chairman and founder Martin Mills stated that, over the past several days, he had “increasingly fruitful discussions with Apple”, and the group is “delighted to say that we are happy to endorse the deal with Apple Music as it now stands, and look forward to being a big part of a very exciting future”. A letter that Billboard obtained from Merlin CEO Charles Caldas echoed a similar sentiment, stating that Merlin “is happy to support the deal”, and that “Apple Music provides artists with a business model that’s good for the long term”. Caldas did stress in his letter, however, that each member of the agency “must make its own independent decisions in relation to Apple Music and its business in general”.
Apple Music is set to launch next Tuesday, June 30th. The service offers unlimited music streaming from a large catalog of artists, as well as a curated 24-hour radio station called Beats1. After the initial three month trial period, the service will cost users $9.99 per month.