Taylor Swift’s open letter to Apple may have sealed the deal on the company’s royalty payment reversal, but the independent artists and labels who had also protested Apple Music’s royalty-free 3-month trial also factored into Cupertino’s decision. Now Apple has convinced two major indie hold-outs to sign on with the streaming service just days before its launch.
Beggars Group, a group that includes four of the largest indie labels in the world, and Merlin, a network that represents some 20,000 indie labels’ digital rights, are now reportedly on board with Apple Music, which would mean huge acts like Arcade Fire and Adele will be available to stream on launch day. Beggars is the umbrella for Rough Trade, XL, Matador, and 4AD, and is considered an industry leader. Expect more indie groups to fall in line now that Beggars and Merlin have backed Apple Music.
“I am pleased to say that Apple has made a decision to pay for all usage of Apple Music under the free trials on a per-play basis, as well as to modify a number of other terms that members had been communicating directly with Apple about,” Merlin CEO Charles Caldas write in a letter to the network’s members obtained by Billboard. “With these changes, we are happy to support the deal.”
Caldas said that Merlin believes Apple Music “provides artists with a business model that’s good for the long term.”
Why this matters: While Taylor Swift was the most notable star to pull her music from Apple’s streaming service over the royalty payments kerfuffle, losing the independent music community would have been a bigger hit for Apple Music. The indie labels make more than 35 percent of U.S. music revenue and take home about half of Grammy wins each year. These aren’t little-known places with unheard of artists that no one would even want to stream. Swift may have been the publicly vocal Apple Music critic, but without indie support, the service may have never gotten off the ground.