Following a change of heart that will see artists paid for a free 90-day Apple Music trial, Apple’s $9.99 per month streaming-music service has landed an important victory by signing up 20,000 independent labels and distributors through a licensing agreement with Beggars Group and Merlin Network, Billboard reported late Tuesday.
The group represents 20,000 labels and distributors worldwide, including artists like 4AD, XL, Matador and Rough Trade, meaning songs by such bands as FKA Twigs, Radiohead and M.I.A. will be part of Apple Music’s debut lineup. Beggars has also had a hand in the career of Adele, among others.
Just hours after the Beggars Group and Merlin deals went live, independent music advocate group Worldwide Independent Network also signed a deal with 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. With these changes, we are happy to support the deal,” CEO Charles Caldas wrote in a letter to Merlin members.
Here’s the full memo, a copy of which was obtained by Billboard:
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.
Just a week ago, Beggars Group condemned Apple Music’s terms.
“At the moment we do not have an agreement with Apple Music that would allow us to participate in the new service,” Beggars wrote in a press release last week. “However, we very much hope that the obstacles to agreement can be removed, for us and for independent Merlin-member labels as a whole, and that we will be able to fully support this potentially exciting new service in the coming days.”
The group has changed its mind after Apple backed down to pop artist Taylor Swift who publicly chastised the firm over refusing to pay artists during the free trial, asking the company to reverse its policy.
Beggars Group owns major indie labels 4ad, Matador, Rough Trade, The Young Turks and XL Recordings, the latter counting artists such as Adele, Jack White, M.I.A., Radiohead, Tyler The Creator and Vampire Weekend among its acts.
XL Recordings is deemed the most successful indie label in the world.
Apple Music will cost ten bucks per month ($14.99 for a family of up to six) after a free three-month trial period. The service supports unlimited streaming of songs and includes features like human playlist curation, a 24/7 Internet radio stations hosted by celebrity DJs, dubbed Beats One, a Connect social feature for artists to communicate with fans and other perks.