Indie Labels

Does Apple Music’s new $4.99 Voice subscription mean less money for artists, labels?

While Apple Music’s new $4.99 Siri-based “Voice’ subscription offering is good news for consumers, what does it mean for artists and record labels?

First the basics: Designed around Siri’s voice controls, the new Apple Music Voice Plan includes access to all playlists, personalized mixes, genre stations, and Apple Music Radio for $4.99 per month – half the usual Apple Music $9.99 per month tier.

This half-priced plan seems designed to compete with Amazon Music Unlimited’s $3.99 plan which unlike the Apple Music Voice Plan is tied to just a single device. Another target may be Spotify’s free streaming offering which is growing in popularity as more new users try Spotify via podcast listening.

More paying users for Apple Music usually means more revenue for artists. But this time the revenue increase is likely to be small.

Label, publisher, and artist royalties are calculated based on a percentage of Apple Music’s revenue, so these new $4.99 subscriptions will pay about half as much as the usual Apple or Spotify Premium $9.99 subscriptions in royalties to artists, labels, and music publishers.

Factor in the lost revenue from $9.99 per month subscribers who switch to save money as well as those who would have eventually paid $9.99, and the long-term positive effect on royalties of the new Apple Music Voice Plan could be negligible.

Bruce Houghton is Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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