Report: 20,000 indies likely on board Apple Music as Beggars Group & Merlin sign up (hello Adele?)


Apple’s decision to reverse course and pay royalties to artists during the three-month free trial of Apple Music appears to have persuaded indie labels to sign up to the service. Billboard reports that Beggars Group – which owns 4AD, XL, Matador and Rough Trade – has signed, and Merlin, which represents 20,000 indie labels and distributors, has recommended the deal to its members.

Apple Music, the hardware giant’s soon-to-launch streaming service, has landed an eleventh-hour coup, striking deals with the independents’ digital rights organization Merlin and with Martin Mills’ indie powerhouse Beggars Group, sources tell Billboard.

The biggest name represented by Merlin is Adele. While most of Merlin’s members are likely to sign following the company’s endorsement, Adele of course has the clout to make her own decision, so it’s not yet certain that she will come on board … 

Beggars had previous joined Taylor SwiftAnton Newcombe and others in opposing Apple’s original plan to pay artists nothing during the free trial in return for higher royalties afterwards, saying that Apple was “taking the ‘mium’ out of freemium.”

While Apple appears not to be paying full royalties during the trial period, Merlin CEO Charles Caldas said that with the revised terms offered to labels, it was “happy to support the deal.”

Billboard obtained the full text of a letter sent by Merlin to its members, reproduced below.

Dear Merlin Member

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. With these changes, we are happy to support the deal.

As you know Merlin has not historically had a direct contract with Apple. Apple has direct deals with our members, and that continues to be the case. Therefore, the amendments referred to above will apply to your existing direct agreements, and the amended contract will shortly appear on iTunes Connect. However, Apple has indicated that in the future they are open to engaging with Merlin as a central point of communication and negotiation for our membership.

Apple has a long standing, deep rooted relationship with the music community and has always helped ensure artists get paid for their work. We think Apple Music provides artists with a business model that’s good for the long term and we look forward to its launch on June 30.

We would remind you as ever that each member must make its own independent decisions in relation to Apple Music and its business in general.

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  1. lkrupp215 - 8 years ago

    After all of this, any ‘artist’ who still refuses to sign up can be properly labeled a hypocritical loser, unless they don’t allow their music to be streamed by anybody already.

    • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 8 years ago

      Maybe they don’t want it streamed using Lossy. Some are finicky about that and there’s nothing wrong with being finicky over sound quality.

      • Paul Andrew Dixon - 8 years ago

        A person who is truly passionate about the music that they are creating, and are worried about the quality of the sound, then even with iTunes the music is not in Hi Res format and is still compressed…

        Many of these artists have been crying over the fact that they want their music to be heard (which makes sense) and they want to be paid every time it is listened to (ok, fair enough)… So when a tech giant bows down and supports the indie market and offers to pay, provides a service to get the indie music out there, and their fan base is really wanting to stream your music, then there has to come a point when you stop being so stuck up and provide the listener what they want…

        Most people don’t care so much about the hi res or lossy…mostly because people are listening on their phones or laptop through headphones or speakers that can’t even play hi res music…

        These indie artists rely on fans, the only why they get fans is if people listen to their music — streaming is one of the best ways…
        When are the musicians going to give back to their fans — people pay a crap load to see them at concert, they buy CDs even though they only like half the songs (if they are lucky), and they buy merchandise — the fans get excited about new ways to listen and discover BUT the artists are not fully on board — i’ve honest lost a lot of respect for many of these people.

      • proudinfidelusmc - 8 years ago

        … and FM radio is not lossy?
        Lets not even bring up AM radio…

      • galley99 - 8 years ago

        Many artists have no idea that their music is sometimes brickwalled to the point of being unlistenable.


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Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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