Apple’s new plan to give a higher cut of royalties to artists who offer spatial audio has pissed off some indie labels, who argue it will take potential earnings away from them in favor of companies with more resources at their disposal, according to a report from the Financial Times. Apple last month started offering 10 percent higher royalties to artists who release spatial audio tracks on Apple Music. But, this comes out of the same fixed pool of money also used to pay artists who do not offer the format.
Spatial audio is produced using Dolby Atmos technology and, according to executives who spoke with FT, costs roughly $1,000 more per song. A whole album would cost about 10 times as much — now multiply that to account for the hundreds or thousands of albums a label may have in its back catalog. The Financial Times spoke with executives from Beggars Group, Secretly and Partisan Records, which house labels representing artists including Vampire Weekend, Phoebe Bridgers and others.
One executive told FT, “If [this policy] takes between 5 and 10 percent off of your global revenues, and not even because the songs aren’t performing but because you lose that money and it goes to Universal, the biggest player in the market, we’re definitely concerned. It’s hard enough to make money off of streaming.” They plan to take it up with Apple in hopes of working out a better deal.