Indie labels back Apple Music after decision to pay artists during free trial

Apple owes Taylor Swift a big thank you. Days after the iPhone-maker reversed its decision not to pay artists during Apple Music’s three-month free trial — a change of heart brought about in no small part by Swift’s intervention — the world’s biggest indie labels have said they’re now backing Apple Music. Billboard reports that Apple has struck deals with both Beggars Group (which owns a number of imprints including XL Recording) and independent rights agency Merlin, which represents some 20,000 labels and distributors.

In a letter to Merlin members reprinted by Billboard, CEO Charles Caldas writes: “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.”

A press release from Beggars Group — which signed up as part of the larger Worldwide Independent Network— echoes this sentiment, saying: “Over the last few days we have had increasingly fruitful discussions with Apple. We are now delighted to say that we are happy to endorse the deal with Apple Music as it now stands.” Just last week, Beggars said it was “very concerned” over Apple’s policy of not paying artists, accusing the company of “taking the ‘mium’ out of freemium.”

Although the details of the deals are unknown, the news could be a major coup for Apple in terms of adding to its streaming catalog. Rights agency Merlin represents some 20,000 independent labels and distributors, while Beggars Group distributes a number of big-ticket artists including Adele, Radiohead, and The xx. Whether or not these larger players will try and reach their own deals with Apple Music remains to be seen.



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