Is Apple Music Screwing Over Independent Record Labels?

By James O Malley on at

As Apple tries to tie up deals with independent labels ahead of the launch of Apple Music, it appears to be playing hardball.

Engadget reports that Anton Newcombe, singer with the Brian Jonestown Massacre, has been tweeting his frustration. Apple is apparently demanding that labels let Apple access their catalogues for free (so no royalties) for three months (as part of the three-month trial everyone will get) and if labels don't sign up to the plan, they risk being dropped from the iTunes Music Store entirely.

 

 

Yikes.

Presumably Apple is thinking that it has an advantage, in that smaller bands need to be on iTunes or risk losing visibility. We can't help but wonder though if this is a bit of a dick move, and that Apple is abusing its position as a gatekeeper and as one of the largest companies in the world.

What makes it strange is that, as Engadget notes, Apple has promised to be marginally more generous than Spotify by offering 71.5 per cent royalties instead of 70 per cent. But it seems in return for potentially more cash later on, Apple is essentially demanding a bigger price to pay up front, which is going to hurt small artists most?

Apple Music was unveiled by the company a few weeks ago to a mixed reaction, alongside plans for a new "Beats" branded radio station (which will be terrible). It'll be interesting to see how this stand-off plays out, as indie-cred could conceivably impact the forthcoming battle with Spotify.

No doubt this story will continue to run. We'll keep you updated if Apple wade in and respond. [Engadget]