A Lot Of Indie Labels Aren't Down With Apple Music

Here's what indie labels are saying about Apple Music's contract requirements.

Apple Music is now just under two weeks away from its grandiose, long-in-the-making launch and an army of detractors is swelling ahead of the big day. For many, at issue is the platform's questionable decision to forego a payout to certain rights owners and artists during a planned three month trial period. (The clause will prevent many artists from getting paid anything at all for music released during that trial period.)

Yesterday, Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon took to Twitter to denounce Apple Music and the company as a whole, admitting that his faith in the brand is long gone. Now, Beggars Group, a sizable British record company and distributor, has issued an open letter announcing that they're essentially at an impasse in negotiations with Apple Music due to a rift over the trial period requirements put forth by the company. 

"We have recently been in discussions with Apple Music about proposed terms for their new service," the letter reads. "In many ways the deal structure is very progressive, but unfortunately 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." Later, Beggars Group adds, "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...We are also naturally concerned, as ever, as to whether we and you are being treated on a level playing field vis a vis the major labels and their artists."

Beggars Group owns or distributes music for indie labels including XL Recordings, Matador, 4AD, Rough Trade, and more.

Separately, Rolling Stone published an interview yesterday with an anonymous source at a leading indie label that touches on some of the same points as Beggars' letter. "I hesitate to say 'everyone,' but a lot of independent labels are of the same mind — that it's kind of a raw deal," the source told the site. "People would have been open for, certainly, a 30-day trial — it's very common industry standard — and pretty reduced rates for the other two months," another source piled on. "I just think the way they're going about it — three months [of] not getting paid anything — is kind of ridiculous."

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