As time ticks down, Apple has brought on thousands of independent labels yet unsigned to its new Apple Music streaming service. Reported by Time, indie juggernaut Beggars Group and indie label network Merlin will license their artists after Apple announced it would, indeed, pay artists during the streaming service’s three-month free trial period. Apple had previously stated that it wouldn’t pay artists for its first three months, but backpedaled after Taylor Swift called out the tech giant via social media.
It’s a vital win for Apple Music, the much anticipated streaming service which launches on June 30, as the service gears up to compete with Spotify, Pandora and others in an already saturated streaming music market. The deals ensure that Adele, Arctic Monkeys and tens of thousands of other artists will be available to stream.
“Over the last few days we have had increasingly fruitful discussions with Apple,” Beggars Group CEO Martin Mills said in a statement. “We are now 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.”
Taylor Swift’s widely-shared open letter via Tumblr made Apple Music change its course, agreeing to pay artists during its free trial period, and therefore convincing indie labels to sign with the streaming service. Swift acted as a mouthpiece for rising artists who would be particularly hurt by the service’s now-changed policy.
“When I woke up this morning and saw what Taylor had written, it really solidified that we needed to make a change,” said Apple’s Eddie Cue to Billboard. “And so that’s why we decided we will now pay artists during the trial period and we’ll also keep the royalty rate at the higher rate.”
Prior to Apple’s about-face, indie labels had overwhelmingly voiced serious concerns about Apple not paying their artists during the three month period. In particular, label heads and indie label associations had noted that artists releasing new albums in the next three months would be hurt significantly. And, for indie labels with tight margins, signing on with Apple Music could put a big hole in their bottom line.
While it’s still unclear what the royalty rate will be during the free trial period, it looks like it’s enough for indie labels to come to an agreement with the streaming service, just in time for its debut.
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