Should Indie Artists and Labels Boycott Apple Music?

There’s a new uproar in the music community about new terms set forth by Apple for their latest music streaming service, Apple Music. The 90-day free trial the computer giant is touting sounds great at first, until you realize that it means no royalties will be paid to the artists that (presumably) millions of fans will be streaming en masse. So, should indie artists and labels boycott Apple Music to send a message?

Maybe. The wording Apple reportedly sent out is pretty harsh – either agree to our terms or you’re done with Apple altogether. No contracts for streaming, iTunes Radio, nada. The fear, understandably, is that a 90-day trial will send hordes of fans to Apple to feast upon gigs and gigs of free music, with indie labels and artists getting squeezed and being left with no payments on all the music consumed.

It’s nothing new of course. With every new iteration of streaming services, seemingly new ways to screw artists emerge. Heck, we just shared a story about the glory days of Columbia House where giving away freebie CDs meant no royalty payments, too. Like we said, it’s nothing new.

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But should YOUR band or label call it quits with Apple? How much music are you currently selling with them? How much is the exposure worth to you? Apple already seems to be facing a massive threat of withdrawal, so if enough indies get on board, perhaps our voices and concerns will actually be addressed.

We’ll leave you with this.  A2IM, the US trade group that represents indie labels, seriously warned its members about signing the new Apple contract.

“…Independent rights holders will receive no compensation for their content during Apple Music’s 90-day free trial period. It is surprising that Apple feels the need to give a free trial as Apple is a well-known entity, not a new entrant into the marketplace. Since a sizable percentage of Apple’s most voracious music consumers are likely to initiate their free trails at launch, we are struggling to understand why rights holders would authorize their content on the service before October 1. This is especially true in light of the potential revenue damage to a music label’s iTunes download revenues and impact on their cash flow

We will keep everyone informed as new details emerge in the press. In the meantime, please do not feel rushed to sign Apple’s current offer. If you’d like to discuss generic deal structures, please feel free to reach out to us at A2IM.

A2IM understands that each music label must determine for themselves their own promotional and commerce plans and that we respect our member labels’ independent entrepreneurial spirit. We simply suggest to our members that before agreeing to any direct licenses, that they should please consider all factors and their effects on their music label’s results, now and in the future, and make an educated decision. In accordance with the entrepreneurial spirit of our members who run their businesses, each of our members should continue to do what is in their business’s best interests knowing, whatever decision or statements they make, that every A2IM label member will always continue to get full A2IM support and benefits.”

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