Is the initial glow from Apple Music already fading among independent labels?
Beggars Group, the label consortium that includes esteemed imprints like XL, 4AD and Matador, posted a statement to its website that lambastes the new streaming service for its royalty policy. Namely, the prospect of a lack of royalties paid out during the free first three months of its service.
"[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," said the statement. "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."
Beggars' statement was measured in its criticism -- "Apple have been a wonderful partner for the last decade, and we confidently trust they will continue to be so," they wrote. But its complaint sums up many of the fears surrounding a monolith like Apple being able to set the terms for the future of streaming music.
Among those concerns are that major labels and artists will be held to different rules than indie acts; that the free trial dilutes the push away from "freemium" models designed to attract fans into a paid version with an ad-supported one; and that artists will be sacrificing revenue at the expense of Apple's push into the streaming market. The Beggars Group's comments echo those from Australia's indie-label trade group that was "not satisfied" with Apple's terms thus far.
The statement asserted that "at the moment we do not have an agreement with Apple Music that would allow us to participate in the new service," which could potentially mean that popular and critically acclaimed acts like Vampire Weekend and The xx would be missing from the service.
"However," it continued, "we very much hope that the obstacles to agreement can be removed, for us and for independent...labels as a whole, and that we will be able to fully support this potentially exciting new service in the coming days."
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