UPDATED: Apple Music has launched a $50 million advance royalty fund to help independent labels ensure that their artists are paid amid the economic devastation of the coronavirus pandemic, according to reports in Rolling Stone and Music Business Worldwide; a source close to the situation confirmed the reports to Variety.
According to a letter sent to the labels and cited by Rolling Stone, independent labels that earn at least $10,000 in quarterly Apple Music earnings will qualify for the royalty advances. To qualify, the indie labels are required to have a direct Apple Music distribution deal.
“These are difficult times for the music industry globally,” the letter says in part. “Apple has a deep, decades-long history with music, and we are proud to be in close partnership with the best labels and artists in the world. We want to help.”
Richard James Burgess, president and CEO of the independent-music trade group A2IM, said: “A2IM and the independent sector are extremely grateful to Tim Cook and Apple for taking the initiative to set up a $50m fund for advance payments of royalties to independent labels. Many independents, in part because of their greater reliance on physical goods, have been hit hard by the lockdowns that have shutdown touring and physical retail outlets. Apple has been an essential partner for labels and their artists since they setup the first viable, licensed download site more than a decade and a half ago. No doubt this fund will be a lifesaver for some labels and is a welcome acknowledgment of the interdependence of our recorded music ecosystem.”
Notably, the effort reaches out to a sector — indie labels — that has not been a prominent recipient of the multiple, and welcome, outreach efforts in recent weeks. Among many other laudable efforts. MusiCares has made heroic efforts toward musicians and industry executives whose livelihoods have been decimated by the pandemic, and Live Nation has stepped up with Crew Aid, directed toward live-entertainment professionals.
Yet the recorded-music business has been hit hard as well: Studios are shuttered, record stores — many of which were already struggling — are closed and, with multiple major releases pushed back and vinyl production slowed down if not at a standstill, don’t even have new product to sell online. Thus, Apple Music’s move is a welcome and well-considered boon to a hitherto less-recognized side of the business in need.
Read the full email below, per Rolling Stone:
These are difficult times for the music industry globally. Livelihoods are at risk, with multiple sources of income that our industry relies on vanishing overnight. Apple has a deep, decades-long history with music, and we are proud to be in close partnership with the best labels and artists in the world. We want to help.
Today Apple Music is announcing the creation of a $50 million-plus fund available as advances on future royalties to independent labels, to help them pay artists and maintain operations.
Royalty advances will be offered to independent labels with a direct Apple Music distribution deal who meet a minimum quarterly threshold of $10,000 in Apple Music earnings. Each advance will be based on the label’s past earnings, and will be recoupable against the label’s future earnings. This offer is in good faith that labels will channel funds to artists and label operations based on financial need.
Label agreements for the advances will be posted in iTunes Connect, in the Agreements, Tax, and Banking module, on April 10. To receive an advance you will need to accept the Royalty Advance agreement and be on the latest Apple Music distribution agreement before May 8, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. PDT.
We hope that together we can help provide stability for artists by sustaining an enduring and vibrant music sector. If you have additional questions, please contact us.
Thank you and stay safe,
The Apple Music Team