Apple Music has signed two major indie music rights holders Beggars Group and Merlin Network, which represent over 20,000 indie labels and distributors, reports Billboard. The licensing agencies agreed to sign up for Apple Music after Apple changed course and agreed to pay artists on a per-stream basis during the streaming music service’s three-month trial period.
“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,” said Merlin CEO Charles Caldas. “With these changes, we are happy to support the deal.”
Beggars Group is a British company that distributes labels 4AD, Rough Trade Records, Matador Records and XL Recordings among others, representing artists such as Adele, Arcade Fire and Radiohead, and helping along the careers of Basement Jaxx, M.I.A, The Prodigy and others. Merlin is an aggregator of several smaller labels that have represented music groups such as The xx.
Billboard obtained a copy of the full Apple Music letter sent to Merlin Network members:
Dear Merlin Member
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.
As you know Merlin has not historically had a direct contract with Apple. Apple has direct deals with our members, and that continues to be the case. Therefore, the amendments referred to above will apply to your existing direct agreements, and the amended contract will shortly appear on iTunes Connect. However, Apple has indicated that in the future they are open to engaging with Merlin as a central point of communication and negotiation for our membership.
Apple has a long standing, deep rooted relationship with the music community and has always helped ensure artists get paid for their work. We think Apple Music provides artists with a business model that’s good for the long term and we look forward to its launch on June 30.
We would remind you as ever that each member must make its own independent decisions in relation to Apple Music and its business in general.
Apple Music has also been endorsed by independent music advocate group Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), an agreement reached just hours after the Beggars Group and Merlin deals, according to Billboard. WIN was established in 2006 to address the business, creative and market access issues faced by indie artists and the larger independent music sector.