FT: record labels are opposing Apple’s plans to create a super-bundle of media content

With Apple’s strong focus on services, the company is aiming to create a so-called super-bundle of media content for one flat monthly fee (think of it as an Apple Prime-like offering). However, this strategy has reportedly been met with strong opposition from some major music companies which are afraid that such an offering might devalue their music.

The Cupertino tech giant has reportedly recently approached major record companies to talk about potentially bundling together services like Apple Music and the upcoming original video service Apple TV+. According to people familiar with the negotiations, talks are at an early stage so the two sides have not yet discussed a pricing formula.

The Financial Times has the story:

While some labels are open to the idea, people at one big record company said they had concerns, and that the industry was growing more wary about its relationship with Apple, which strong-armed labels a decade ago into selling individual songs for $0.99 on iTunes.

For context, Apple Music costs ten bucks per month, or $14 per month for a family of six. The Apple TV+ video subscription, which launches November 1, will include only original TV shows and movies funded by Apple in exchange for a low monthly fee of five bucks per month. In addition, all new buyers of iPhones, iPads and Macs will get 12 free months of Apple TV+.

In 2018, 420 million people subscribed to some of the services Apple offers.

The report notes that record labels are “growing more wary about their relationship with Apple,” which is nothing new. Ever since Steve Jobs pitched the iPod music player and the iTunes Store to record executives, record executives have had to sit and watch as Apple has been growing while their own influence in the music business has been fizzling out.

Music companies have complained that Steve Jobs strong-armed them into accepting a $0.99 price for digital songs with the advent of the iTunes store back in the 2000s. But in the streaming era Apple has positioned itself as the friendlier partner.

The story mentions that Apple’s other paid-for media services might be included in this super-bundle, things like the Apple News+ magazine subscription service, for example.

Such a bundle could have several tiers, including apps such as News+, which aggregates magazine and newspaper content for $10 a month, or Arcade, which offers more than 100 games for $5 a month. In theory, Apple could offer consumers a bundle of Apple Music and Apple TV+ at a notional $13 a month, without compelling music rights holders to offer a discount.

Right now, the focus is on Apple Music and Apple TV+ because music, movies and TV shows are the three most-consumed content types. Eventually, Apple could add additional media content to the rumored bundle like Amazon has done with Prime membership.

What do you think about such a bundle from Apple? Would you be willing to pay for that?

Let us know in the comments!