Apple Music Boycott – Should Indie Artists, Labels Stop Releasing New Music For Next 90 Days?

stopThe outcry over Apple Music's 90 free day trial is growing within the independent music community.  But those upset with free trials that return no revenue to artists and labels for millions free plays are left with few options – except, perhaps, to stop releasing new music for the next 90 days.

Concern Over The Contract

image from www.help4nonprofits.comApple sent a 'take it or leave it' contract to independent labels and digital distributors last week. Effectively it said, sign a new deal that allows Apple to give away free 90 day trials to its streaming music service, during which no royalties are due, or you have no longer have any contract with Apple – no contract for streaming, no contract for iTunes Radio, no contract to sell downloads.

The justifiable concern among many independent labels that we've talked to over the last few days is that when Apple Music goes live on June 3oth, millions or even 10's of millions of hardcore music fans are going take advantage of the 90 day free trial. During the free Apple trials, the indies fear, iTunes download sales will plummet and streaming on Spotify and elsewhere will fall dramatically.

It's a scenario that many indie labels and artists, who count on steady income from downloads and streaming, can't survive.  But allowing their contract with Apple – the #1 or #2 source of income for most – to expire, is almost unthinkable.

One answer is not release new music for 90 days.

image from 36.media.tumblr.comWhile Apple's 90 free trial is ongoing, it will be during its first days and weeks, after the new Apple Music rainbow icon appears on tens of millions of Apple devices, that millions will sign up.  Media attention will peak and Apple's legendary marketing and ad machine will swing into action, luring millions more with the promise of free music. Spotify, Deezer and others will answer with free or near free – and non-royalty producing – offerings of their own. 

Spotify & Deezer Join In

Spotify and Deezer are already offering 3 month trials for $.99 ESD and .99 EU respectively, which suggests that they too have similar "trial" clauses in their contracts already.

During that time, not only is any new indie music released likely to get lost in the cacophony, it also be won't be paid anything when curious fans stream it. 

The Future

That streaming is the future of music consumption seems undeniable.  But how the industry reacts to change, along with the messages it sends by its actions, will determine its future. 

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  1. Dark days since Jobs passed.
    The lack of innovation that went into Apple Music is disheartening. From outright jacking Flipboard to copying Spotify and trying to compete with Direct to Fan platforms like Soundcloud. Businesses shouldn’t want to take over for the sake of it, but because they actually have a better solution. If they had no access to users via phones, this wouldn’t even get the little amount of users it will get already.
    Lets not forget people signing up doesn’t mean it’s going to be the go to destination. You can have millions of sign ups with no activity. Imagine the amount of sign ups Myspace still has. I’m still signed up, but haven’t logged in for at least 9 years.

  2. “That streaming is the future of music consumption seems undeniable. But how the industry reacts to change, along with the messages it sends by its actions, will determine its future.”
    So typical of technology. I had to tell the guy last year who said driverless cars were going to take over, to get over it and stop projecting his belief system as if it were truth. Sorry dude, ain’t gonna happen. Anyone who loves to drive isn’t going down that road.
    Same with music. There’s an entire generation of people over forty who appreciate physical product. So just because some twenty-something can’t understand it doesn’t make it so.
    Lastly, and this is the REALITY. Single play streaming does not work. For the artist or the internet company. The only non-terrestrial hybrid that is profitable is Sirius XM, even after they cough up for all that pre-1972 music, they’ll remain profitable. Why? because they aren’t single play like Pandora, Spotify, et. al.
    So before we let interactive streaming entirely destroy music, keep in mind all of these services are IPO businesses with no legitimate back-end. 5 years from now Spotify will be streaming some iteration of Candy Crush to stay alive.

  3. Disgusting, greedy, strategy of Apple. Richest company forces their content providers to give away their work for free.
    Can we also prevent existing music, already released on iTunes store, from being on Apple Music, either for 90 days or permanently?

  4. Yes iTunes is the largest digital part most music companies have however it’s not the only one and most of the digital distributors have agreements with several to thousands in our http://digitaldistributionDeal.com case. So picking and choosing is not that easy as agreements are already in place and none of us are going to settle for not being paid either and putting pressure on together is the only option.
    Moreover, I don’t understand why more artists, bands and labels don’t focus on the #2 digital market Amazon! Since, it’s the #1 physical market for music. If you distributor is using a Clicks to Bricks solution finding out via pre-sales link on Amazon helps the whole supply chain understand who, where. when and how someone’s BuyingThis(TM) release.
    PS the average artists on iTunes sales about 4 downloads, so this is a really 80/20 issue and it’s not the roadblock killing most artists, bands or groups careers.

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