The chairman of the British music industry lobby group UK Music says that independent labels may not agree to Apple’s terms for inclusion on Apple Music. Andy Heath told the Telegraph that receiving no payment during the free trial period could leave indies, which include big-name artists like Adele and the Arctic Monkeys, “completely screwed.”

Heath said that while Apple’s argument is that it will pay slightly more once the free trial is over, smaller labels may be concerned that they will see fewer download sales during the free trial – and that this could put smaller companies out of business.

If you are running a small label on tight margins you literally can’t afford to do this free trial business. Their plan is clearly to move people over from downloads, which is fine, but it will mean us losing those revenues for three months.

While this argument wouldn’t apply to big-name artists signed to indie labels, some of them have in the past taken a stand against terms they consider unfair, such as the low payments from Spotify’s free members. Adele famously refused to allow her hit album 21 to appear on Spotify until long after its release … 

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Heath’s claim that “to his knowledge no British independent labels have agreed to Apple’s terms” seems somewhat misleading: Billboard reported yesterday that Apple has yet to contact any of them.

“With the launch of Apple Music exactly two weeks away (set to launch on June 30), indie music publishers say that they have had no contact from the company seeking licenses, leading many in the music publishing community to suspect that the Cupertino giant will send a bulk email to publishers with an opt-in contract attached.”

The music magazine’s sources said that it is believed Apple will be offering the same 71.5% total split agreed with larger labels once the trial period is over, 1.5% above the industry standard rate for streaming services.

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