Unless something changes soon, Apple Music will be missing Adele, The Cult, Radiohead, and others when it launches June 30, according to a recent report from Business Insider. Small record labels and independent artists are not happy with Apple’s terms, and aren’t signing up for the new streaming music service.
Beggars Group, which is the parent company of some of the biggest independent labels in Europe, published a blog post outlining its concerns with the terms Cupertino is insisting on for Apple Music. Beggars Group is made up of Matador Records, 4AD, Rough Trade Records, XL Recordings, and others. These labels include such names as Adele, The Cult, Vampire Weekend, White Stripes, Gary Numan, Basement Jaxx, Radiohead, The Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age, The Cocteau Twins, Lou Reed, and many more.
The blog post, which is addressed to Beggars Group labels, artists, and managers, points out that Apple has been a wonderful partner with its labels in the past, and that the deal structure is “very progressive.” Unfortunately, the boilerplate contract fails to take into account the fact that small labels often operate on a small budget, and cannot afford to miss out on even three months worth of revenues for a newly released album.
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. Whilst we understand the logic of their proposal and their aim to introduce a subscription-only service, we struggle to see why rights owners and artists should bear this aspect of Apple’s customer acquisition costs.
Whether or not Beggars Group and other independent labels sign on with Apple Music remains to be seen, but right now it looks like they might not. The three royalty-free months might not mean much to artists as successful as Adele and Radiohead, but less well-known musicians could certainly suffer from the lack of revenue. It is possible, of course, that Apple will decide to give royalties to these independent labels during the free trial, but that seems highly doubtful.