Copping to the validity of Taylor Swift’s recent criticism, Apple agreed this week to pay artists and labels royalties during the free trial for Apple Music. That decision is paying off big time, and not just because it put a skip in Swift’s step: Major independent labels that had previously found Apple’s terms less than satisfactory have now pledged their support for Apple Music.
Apple has hammered out deals with the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN)–which represents the likes of indie giant Beggars Group–as well as independent rights organization Merlin and IMPALA, a European group for independent music companies. The Verge reports that Beggars Group releases the work of big players like Adele and Radiohead. All in all, these rights-agency deals will bring in over 20,000 labels and distributors worldwide under the Apple Music awning.
The agreement comes days after Swift called out Apple Music for its initial policy on not paying musicians and labels during its three-month trial period. In a Tumblr post published Sunday morning, Swift spoke to the plight of the indie artist:
“This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field … but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.”
Hours later, Apple executive Eddy Cue responded to Swift’s letter, tweeting that Apple would reverse its decision and pay royalties to artists, writers, and producers–albeit at a lower rate than it will once the free trial ends. The New York Times writes that Apple is still talking numbers with publishing houses:
For each song that is streamed free, Apple will pay 0.2¢ for the use of recordings, a rate that music executives said was roughly comparable to the free tiers from services like Spotify. This rate does not include a smaller payment for songwriting rights that goes to music publishers; Apple is still negotiating with many publishers over those terms, several publishing companies confirmed on Wednesday.
This is likely only the first of many good things to come for Apple Music. On Tuesday, Pharrell announced on Facebook that his upcoming single “Freedom” would be exclusive to the streaming platform, according to Engadget. The song will debut on June 30, when Apple Music launches.