This could be huge. Beggars Group owns many independent labels including 4AD, Rough Trade Records, Matador Records, and XL Recordings with artists like The XX and Adele on its roster. Merlin represents over 20,000 labels and distributors in more than 40 countries and licenses music to the likes of YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud, Google Play and Rdio.
In a letter sent to its members, Merlin CEO Charles Caldas said:
I am pleased to say that Apple has made a decision to pay for all usage of Apple Music under the free trials on a per-play basis, as well as to modify a number of other terms that members had been communicating directly with Apple about. With these changes, we are happy to support the deal.
News of the deal comes just a day after Apple ceded to Taylor Swift’s open letter criticizing its policy to not pay rights holders during Apple Music’s three month trial period for listeners.
Beggars Group had, until now, stood opposed to Apple’s deal for the same reason. Only a week ago, the company said in a blog post:
Whilst we understand the logic of their proposal and their aim to introduce a subscription-only service, we struggle to see why rights owners and artists should bear this aspect of Apple’s customer acquisition costs.
We’ve contacted Apple, Merlin and Beggars Group for more details and will update this post when we hear back.
Update: Beggars Group has confirmed that it’s signed with Apple. Founder Martin Mills said, “We are now delighted to say that we are happy to endorse the deal with Apple Music as it now stands, and look forward to being a big part of a very exciting future.”
➤ Apple Music Signs Beggars Group, Merlin: Sources [Billboard]