Taylor Swift may have dealt the final blow to Apple Music's planned policy of not paying royalties during its free three-month trial. But indie labels were among the first to speak out against the policy, and now many of them are applauding the changes and signing deals with the service.
Apple reportedly has signed deals with a variety of independent label groups that previously were holding out from the service. The groups include the Worldwide Independent Network (a group that includes Beggars, the esteemed indie label groups and perhaps the most outspoken label on this topic) and the label trade group for digital rights, Merlin, which represents over 20,000 smaller labels in royalties negotiation. PIAS, another indie label group with a variety of imprints, also joined the new deal.
"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," wrote Merlin CEO Charles Caldas in a letter to its members. "With these changes, we are happy to support the deal."
The American Association of Independent Music issued its own statement applauding the deal, adding, "We thank Apple Music for hearing our concerns and for their fair and equitable treatment of the worldwide music creator community."
Previously, Beggars Group posted a widely circulated announcement that it would not participate in Apple Music until better terms regarding the free trial (among other concerns) were addressed.
"[U]nfortunately it was created without reference to us, or as far as we know any independents, and as such unsurprisingly presents problems for us, and for our coming artist releases. ... We are naturally very concerned, especially for artists releasing new albums in the next three months, that all streaming on the new service will be unremunerated until the end of September."
The change in terms has, in the popular press, been largely attributed to a statement from Taylor Swift urging Apple to change its deal structure. But these independent labels had more to lose from holding out on Apple Music, and by coming on board now, music's most influential company proved it still can be held accountable by large groups of small artists.