March 4, 2024

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Independent labels conflict with Apple Music's enhanced spatial audio royalties

Independent labels conflict with Apple Music's enhanced spatial audio royalties

like It was first reported by Financial TimesIndependent labels Beggars Group, Secretly Group and Partisan Records oppose Apple's preferential payments for spatial audio. They say independent artists who can't record with spatial audio will earn less because of how streaming music pays for them.

Apple said artists on Apple Music can earn rewards of up to 10 percent for creating music with spatial sound. The company will pay artists pro-rata shares of the subscription money pool, calculated using a factor of 1.1, instead of just 1 for non-spatial audio tracks, which will be left to split a smaller remaining portion of the money.

Unnamed music executives told the Financial Times Producing songs with spatial audio adds $1,000 per song to a production, or about $10,000 for an entire album, and updating older music can be more expensive. Given the cost involved, company bosses say the scheme benefits bigger players such as Universal Music Group, which has the resources to invest in spatial audio and could take a financial hit if an artist doesn't sign up to its spatial audio roster.

Apple is investing heavily in spatial audio, and all of its devices support the format, which is also available on other music streaming sites like Amazon and Tidal. But Spotify doesn't offer spatial audio.

The Beggars Collection includes labels representing independent artists such as Adele and multi-Grammy Award winner Vampire Weekend, while the artist portfolio includes Secretly Bon Iver, Muna and Phoebe Bridgers, and Partisan Records works with PJ Harvey. (Yes, I'm writing this story and listening to a playlist that includes many of these artists. No, they don't play with spatial audio.)

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