Jun 23, 2015

A Swift Bite of Apple

Apple Music is a new music platform set to be released in over 100 different countries by the end of June this year with the intention of positioning Apple in direct competition with other subscription based music platforms such as Spotify.

Developed by the team behind the Beats Music Service, Apple Music will connect listeners to over 30 million songs as well as content uploaded by artists, music expert playlists, new releases and album content.  In addition, the platform has the capacity for new music, encouraging unsigned artists to upload their content.  The developers have even interfaced Siri with the platform enabling a voice recognition search function.

To tempt new users Apple Music allowed a three month trial period, after which, a monthly subscription of £9.99 would be imposed.

So far so good....But

Apple had suggested that in the three month trial period, artists would not receive royalties from any of their music.  Whilst it has been widely reported in the press that it took a a 'Dear John' letter to Apple by Taylor Swift to make Apple see the light and recant its position on royalty payment during the trial window, it is now becoming apparent that Swift's public opposition, although beneficial, was only one protest in a sea of protests from organisations with substantially more commercial and economic muscle.

Apple's intention to not pay royalties in the trial period was not well received in an industry that is dependent on the steady trickle of royalty fees and many record companies and labels across the globe were refusing to deal with Apple until they altered their policy and paid artists during the trial period.  This group of disillusioned record labels represented approximately a quarter of the global market and would not have sanctioned the use of their artists' works on Apple Music, which in turn would have significantly undermined the fanfare on release of the new platform.

Apple Senior Vice-President of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue, said on the growing stance against the no trial period payment policy said:

"We never looked at it as not paying them."

"We had originally negotiated these deals based on paying them a higher royalty rate on an ongoing basis to compensate for this brief time."

In what can only be described as a climb-down, Apple have now agreed to pay artists during the trial window and to keep the royalty at the original terms.  This can only be good news for artists, especially so for the new or unsigned artists, as a higher royalty fee relates to a larger slice of the pie once record labels and publishers have taken their cut.

Whilst this has been a victory for musicians, and Taylor Swift has been the figure head at the front of it all, it remains to be seen how the music industry will respond to an ever growing number of artists willing to speak out for ownership and financial compensation for their work.

In receiving the news directly from Eddy Cue that Apple had changed their position, Taylor Swift tweeted: "I am elated and relieved.  Thank you for your words of support today.  They listened to us."

Posted by: in: Companies, Copyright, Digital/Tech, News

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