REPORT: Apple has signed crucial deals with indie labels for its new music streaming service

AdeleREUTERS/Danny MoloshokBritish singer Adele arrives at the 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California February 12, 2012.

Apple has signed crucial deals to bring music from some of the world’s biggest indie labels to its new streaming service, Billboard reports.

Merlin, a global rights agency for independent music labels, and Beggars Group, a British recording company that owns a group of indie labels, had not signed up to Apple Music because they were concerned over Apple Music’s three-month free trial period.

A free trial is a good thing for consumers because it means that they can try Apple’s new music streaming service before deciding to commit. However, Apple initially wanted artists to allow their music to be streamed on the service without getting paid.

Because of this, major indie label groups had held out on signing deals with Apple, Billboard reports. Apple recently caved and agreed to pay artists during the free trial period, prompted by an open letter written by musician Taylor Swift, which criticised the company’s position.

Now that Apple has backed down on royalties during Apple Music’s trial period, the indie labels are happy.

Billboard reports that Merlin CEO Charles Caldas sent an email to members of his organisation announcing that a deal had been struck. That means that artists including Adele, the Prodigy, and Arcade Fire will likely be coming to Apple music.

Beggars Group is also understood to have signed a deal with Apple, bringing even more indie labels to the service.

Here’s the full email sent by Merlin CEO Charles Caldas to 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.

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