Apple Music WILL pay artists during its free 3-month trial period

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Four kinds of royalties you can earn through Apple MusicOver the past couple weeks, indie artists, distributors, labels, and label groups (such as Beggars, Merlin, A2IM, etc.) have been voicing concerns over Apple Music’s 3-month introductory trial period, during which rights owners would NOT be paid for the usage of their music.

Well, we’re very excited to share good news with you: on Monday, June 22nd, Apple announced it has reconsidered, and it WILL pay royalties to artists, labels, and publishers during the trial period.

How did this all unfold? Well, Apple has been paying close attention to the voices of independent rights holders (both publicly and privately), and the conversation culminated with a now widely reported exchange between Taylor Swift and Apple Music’s Eddy Cue.

First, Taylor Swift wrote an open letter to Apple Music asking them to reconsider their policy regarding payments during the trial period.

Her letter concludes:

We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.

Her fans went nuts, sharing her letter tens of thousands of times, and adding their voices to the discussion too.

Apple’s Eddy Cue responded:


Soon after, Apple announced a change of course, agreeing to pay artists, labels, and publishers for streaming activity that occurs within the introductory trial period. Clearly when Taylor Swift speaks, the music industry takes note (though her letter put a point on an argument that had been weeks in the making).

So, how will this reversal (in favor of artists, songwriters, publishers, and labels) impact the launch of Apple Music? Will Apple Music’s competitive payouts, giant musical catalog, and Apple Connect make it the obvious favorite for users and musicians?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

For more on Apple Music, check out:

How to claim your Apple Music artist profile through ‘Connect’

How much of Apple Music’s subscription revenue is being paid to rights owners?

4 kinds of royalties you can earn from Apple Music

How do I get my music on Apple Music?

What effect will Apple Music have on the music industry?

Apple announces Apple Music, the new music streaming service

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  • jserrano

    how much will apple pay? better than spotify, i hope…

  • jserrano

    how much will apple pay? better than spotify, i hope…

    • Apple Music will pay about 71.5% of subscription revenue to rights owners. When payments are measure as a percentage of revenue, that’s better than Spotify (who’s at about 70%). Of course, if no one subscribes, that’s 71.5% of nothing — but it’s Apple, so I’m assuming Apple Music will be huge, especially since they’re going to throw all their marketing muscle behind it.


      • Rémy Steelcox

        Streaming would play only a part of a song and not the whole song, this in order to encourage people to buy songs. If streaming always plays the whole songs artists, songwriters, publishers, and labels can stop their activities instead of working for nothing. What is your opinion about that point ?

        • I don’t believe it makes sense for consumers to be forced to store audio files on their devices if they’re satisfied with streaming audio quality.


  • We should pull the plug on all streaming

    • Omenhar

      Dream on.

  • Greetings from Dakar Senegal

  • JazzDude1000

    So, you write an article asking us a question, with no response to that question, and no useful information going forward on the topic? I don’t get it…

  • Good. A rich company like this should not be launching their biz off the backs of artists

  • Eric Bolvin

    Well this may be the end of itunes, which means that it’s the end of getting paid decently. If everything goes streaming, then the artist will end up with nothing.

  • Ellis Godard

    I’m calling nans. If there was a previous policy whereby Apple announced it planned to (break the law and) not pay artists, cite it. Taylor hasn’t – and neither has anyone else. Beggar Group records raised the *question* days before Taylor’s nonsense, and then Taylor made a PR stunt whining episode out of it – and then Apple played along because it had attracted essentially zero covered the day its streaming service was announced. You’ve reified a status that Taylor doesn’t deserve, played into Apple’s free publicity, and bought (hook to sinker) that there was a policy change, without every citing the original text or the change. NANS!

  • Ellis Godard

    Of *course* Apple will pay its artists. When did it ever say it wouldn’t??

  • Brent Crysell

    So if a subscriber pays $10 for a month, and in that month streams one album one time only, (and no other album at all), does apple pay 71.5% of that $10 = $7.15 to that artist’s distributor?

  • Adam

    Adrien… pull the plug on all streaming? That is all the exposure some indie artists receive.

  • Heather W. Reichgott

    Signed up 4 days ago. I’m in the “we’ll be in touch soon…” club…

  • Christopher Bingham

    Think of streaming as the commercial radio play 99.5% of us are never going to get, and 99.9% who DO get it, won’t get paid for. Spotify pays well over 10 times the rate terrestrial radio pays per listener. It’s just that they have a method for tracking actual listens.

    SO FAR, it looks like indies will be treated with relative equality on the pay per play basis – but remember also Apple raised payouts on majors and lowered them on indies – and Spotify has now been bought by major labels.

    Anytime we can avoid the old broadcast model, indies will do better. But cheap streaming is the future. Why buy when you can stream? Our only choice is on the bus or off the bus.

  • Tom Hendricks

    With the music industry so consolidated, I think only Swift or Beyonce, the coke and pepsi of the music industry, could have made this happen. I applaud Swift for doing it. Let’s hope this helps those thousands of musicians that have been mostly marginalized in a Warners, Universal, Sony, music world.

  • Nope. It’s a complicated formula, but the simplified version is: total subscription revenue per accounting period divided by total plays times the rights owner’s share of those plays.



  • Apple’s initial plan was to NOT pay rights owners for streams that occur during its introductory 3-month trial period for the Apple Music service. That is what they’ve changed course on.


  • Apple Music’s previous policy WAS to NOT pay rights owners during its trial period. This is demonstrated in their initial contract (which you can find online). It was also perfectly legal according to the terms of the contract.


  • I’m confused. Did you want me or someone from CD Baby to answer the question that I posed in the article? If so, check out this podcast where we discuss our feelings about this launch:
    or see this blog post:


  • Good news.

  • John

    Apple payed Taylor Swift to help publicize the company, which in turn makes both of them money when the mass of sheeple go to sign up and stream nothing but Taylor Swift, thinking they are rebelling against a greedy corporation, when really they are the main target consumers in this not so clever media hype hoopla/ ad campaign scheme. Kinda scary Apple can pay NBC ABC CBS nightly news to make this a top story nationally. Apple figured out a way to “play commercials” in between commercial breaks! GE, IBM, Microsoft, eat your heart out!

    • Why would Apple intentionally seek bad publicity for two weeks, then reverse course in a capitulation that risks demonstrating that they’d been deaf to rights holders’ concerns about standard streaming practices in the first place? If there was some secret partnership between Taylor and Apple, wouldn’t it have been better to just get her to come out on stage as part of the WWDC2015 and announce that she loves Apple Music (in contrast to her very public spat with Spotify) because Apple has decided to pay artists a higher percentage of subscription revenue AND also pay for streams during its free trial? Apple would seem pro-artist at the outset; and Taylor throwing her favor decidedly behind one streaming service would get headlines. Besides, I don’t think Apple needs to engage in cloak-and-dagger PR. They’re the biggest brand in the world. Anything they do is news.


      • John

        You make very good, sound and logical points.
        I would like to believe that you are right, but I do believe the public needs to be aware of how cunning marketing has become.
        Reverse psychology works.
        Having a protagonist and an antagonist works.
        When NBC nightly news reports that Tamaflu is the most effective treatment for swine flu days after record shares are bought by elite citizens ( Obama anyone? ) to think there is no connection would be foolish. The trick is making us think our money is well spent with Apple, that they are “doing the right thing” by us, to make the most profit by any means possible. Apple paying Taylor Swift to help “advertise” is not far fetched at all.

  • John

    This article is crap. Copy paste much?

  • Brandon Meeks

    I think it’s cool that Apple is showing at least symbolic concern over artist concerns. I don’t think artists will ever be able to see any real money from streaming services though. I wish there was a way for artists to connect with people who discover their music through streaming services and funnel them to an email list. That would make it a lot more worthwhile to have music on there.