Indie Music

1300 More Indies Join Apple Music Revolt

image from www.hypebot.comThe protests against Apple Music are growing. Upset over a 90 day free trial that returns no revenue to rights holders, US indie music trade group A2IM led the charge. AIM added the voices of UK labels including a particularly vocal Beggars Group. Now 1300 indies in the world's 3rd largest music market are also speaking out.


VUT, the German Association of Independent Music Companies, has released this open letter to Apple. We've added bold to highlight certain passages.

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Dear Tim Cook, dear Eddy Cue,

I am writing to you today regarding the terms of your new streaming service Apple music. We, the German Association of Independent Music Companies, represent 1,300 German music companies – labels, publishers, distributors, aggregators, self-marketing artists etc. Our members produce 35 % of the recorded music used in Germany. They embrace innovative ideas to connect with music fans and the long-term relationships to their artists are at the core of their businesses.

We always believed that Apple aims at reaching fair deals with all players and not just with the three remaining major labels. The terms of the contracts sent to independent labels unfortunately tell a different story. You want to make Apple Music THE platform for music lovers worldwide by bringing them “more music than ever with access to millions of songs”. In our opinion – and as other cases like Myspace have proven in the past – you won´t succeed if you don´t take the independent music companies on board.

Your plan not to compensate independent labels during the three-month trial period leads to the assumption that you don´t respect the music of independent artists or the work their partners do. It is obvious that this will reduce the overall income for independent artists and labels significantly at a time when many depend on every cent for survival.

Your company is not a start-up, your company is the “first U.S. company to cross the $700 billion valuation mark” and the biggest digital music retailer, so we´d assume you´re definitively able to pay the independents and their artists. Your company wants to use the content independent artists and their partners created, which took hard work, money and time. My guess is that without this music Apple Music won´t be that interesting, actually it might be quite boring with just mainstream acts on board.

Independents shouldn't be the ones paying for your customer acquisition and the risk of the launch of your service. Instead, you should pay all partners as you did in the past. Apple used to be a highly valued partner of independent music companies and we´d like to see this relationship continue.

This means it should go without saying that you pay for the music you´re using in your new service, starting the first day of its launch and not after a period of three months. Show the respect for the work of the artists and their partners you used to show in the past!

Apple Music can definitively become a great place for music but you should try to reach that aim WITH the independent artists and labels. To get the independents on board, offering a fair deal, fair compensation and a seat at the table is the basis.

Therefore, we´d really appreciate an explanation for Apple´s behaviour towards independent music companies and hope that Apple will rethink its contract terms. We´re ready to talk, so are many independents worldwide.

Sincerely yours,

Jörg Heidemann
Secretary General
VUT – The German Association of Independent Music Companies

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  1. 3 free months on a nascent streaming service is barely a blip on the radar. The notion that labels will go out of business because of this is a fallacy. They are upset because they don’t have Merlin to hide behind and get them advances.

  2. @jeffs,
    The aggregate economic affect is substantial. Furthermore, artists have to spend considerable amounts of money to create their content, and it makes no sense for a huge company to expect artists to bear their promotional costs regardless of how little any given royalty payout might amount to.
    YOUR argument is fallacious. Apparently all businesses are expected to operate at the brink of bankruptcy before they can fight for fair pay.

  3. no they don’t have to operate near bankruptcy, they can choose not to participate, but saying Apple will put them out of business because of 3 months of free streaming (as the UK indies had said) is ludicrous and inflammatory. They are upset that Apple is not dealing with Merlin and getting them advances. This is about money, but not in the way most think.
    Apple Music’s rates for sound recordings are reportedly higher than Spotify in all territories (and the publishing deal I am hearing is 30% more than what everyone else is paying) and the size of Apple’s potential user base is massive, no doubt growing streaming revenue for all for years to come. They are bringing something to the table here and everyone in the industry will benefit from it.

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