Apple Starts Landing Indy Deals for Apple Music

All those indy record labels that only a few days ago refused to sign on with the soon to launch Apple Music service have reversed course. The independent labels weren't signing on because Apple wasn't going to pay royalties during the three month free trial period for new subscribers, but now that the iPhone and iPad maker has said it will, more artists are willing to get on board.

Indy labels and artists signing up for Apple MusicIndy labels and artists signing up for Apple Music

The digital rights organization Merlin, and record labels label Beggars Group and PIAS are have Apple Music deals now, according to Billboard. Merlin CEO Charles Caldas told members, 

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.

Apple Music is set to launch on June 30, and will include a streaming music component, an Internet radio station, and a social promotional service for artists. Subscribers will pay US$9.99 a month, with the first three months of their subscription set as a free trial.

Independent labels and artists were balking at the contract terms because they didn't include royalty payments during the free trial period. Once subscriber's trial period ends, Apple pays about 71.5 percent to US labels, and about 73 percent outside of the US, which is higher than industry standards.

Apple changed its payment terms this week after singer Taylor Swift slamed the company in a blog post. Senior vice president of Internet Services and Software Eddy Cue said Apple had already been considering making the change and that her blog post helped solidify the decision.

With indy labels now willing to sign up, Apple Music will have an even larger library of tracks when it launches next week. PIAS Managing Director Adrian Pope said, "[PIAS] made it contingent that in us approving this agreement the same terms would be made available to all 4000+ independent labels, thus providing a fair playing field for all. Our recommendation to labels is that we now embrace the service."

With endorsements like that it's a safe bet we'll see even more record labels and artists sign on for Apple Music before the 30th.