Apple Music

A guide to Apple Music for the independent musician

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Apple Music is live and streaming, and our partners at CD Baby have provided a lot of information to help you navigate the newest – and potentially biggest – kid on the block.

Apple Music is now live and streaming, and is in week three of its three-month free trial period. Taylor Swift had something to say about Apple’s original plans not to pay artists for this three-month span (which made Apple change its policy and pay up!); and Spotify, it’s clearest competitor, has also been critical (to no one’s surprise). In fact, a story on Tech Times suggests that “Spotify and its hired lobbyists have been making the rounds in Washington, questioning Apple’s tactics and rising antitrust concerns among politicians.”

For independent musicians who want in on the service, CD Baby has been identified by Apple as the go-to source to make music available on the platform (the “Sign Up” link on Apple Music’s “How Do I Get Started” page goes right to CD Baby’s “Members” page). In addition to being an Apple approved aggregator, the editors at CD Baby’s The DIY Musician blog have embarked on a series of blog posts covering Apple Music from a variety of angles.

In “Apple announces Apple Music, the new music streaming service,” Chris Robley introduces the Apple Music model, highlighting some of its differences from other services in the market, including the absence of a free subscription plan. And by asking “Are you excited about Apple Music?” he opened up a thought-provoking conversation in the comments section that articulates the roiling sentiments of some independent artists who are not exactly enamored with the streaming model of music. It’s worth a read.

How to claim your Apple Music artist profile through ‘Connect’” provides a step-by-step guide through the process of customizing your artist account through Connect. Apple Connect is Apple Music’s interface that gives access and control over your artist profile, including the ability to add photos, videos, songs, and other promotional content your fans can comment on, like, and share via Messenger, Facebook, Twitter, or email. “How to post an update on Apple Connect (Apple Music’s new social network)” is a follow-up on how to post an update.

What effect will Apple Music have on the music industry?” has Robley postulating that Apple’s size and financial position makes it uniquely qualified to influence a change in the streaming industry in regard to royalty payouts to the artists (in the long run). With its paid subscription-only model, Apple Music’s potential for generating revenue is unquestioned. Whether that will make its way to artists in the form of higher royalty payments is something only time will tell.

In “How do I get my music on Apple Music?” Robley reiterates that you must go through a distributor in order to get your music on Apple Music. If you have your music on CD Baby available for streaming, it is already available on Apple Music (which launched on June 30th).

4 kinds of royalties you can earn from Apple Music,” outlines the following royalty possibilities:
1. Interactive streaming royalties for your sound recording – paid to you via CD Baby (your aggregator)
2. Mechanical royalties for interactive streaming – paid to you via CD Baby Pro (your publishing administrator)
3. Performance royalties for internet radio plays – paid to you via ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and your publishing rights administrator (CD Baby Pro)
4. Digital performance royalties for streams of sound recordings on Beats 1 and iTunes Radio – paid to you via CD Baby (your aggregator)

In “How much of Apple Music’s subscription revenue is being paid to rights owners?” Robley offers a brief explanation of sound recording royalties vs. performing rights royalties.

Finally, Tracy Maddux, CEO of CD Baby, had an op-ed piece run on titled “Wait, Apple Music Could Be Great for Indie Musicians?” that expands on Robley’s notions concerning the effect Apple Music could have on the industry. Maddux also proposes that Apple Music is uniquely positioned to have a positive impact in the long run as it relates to independent artists and the potential for a new standard in streaming royalties for music artists.

Other posts from The DIY Musician include:
Apple Music has launched: how to download it! – Step-by-step instructions to download iOS 8.4, or to access Apple Music through iTunes

A strolling tour of Apple Music – Walks you through customizing your user experience on Apple Music.

The DIY Musician Podacst Episode #150: Roundtable – What artists need to know about Apple Music has CD Baby’s Kevin Breuner and Chris Robley take a “look at the Apple Music launch through the indie musician lens.”

A musician, writer, and marketer, Andre Calilhanna manages and edits the Disc Makers and BookBaby Blogs. Follow Andre on Twitter @dre_cal. Email him at

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10 thoughts on “A guide to Apple Music for the independent musician

  1. Thank you Roland, Drew, and Richard for saving me from finding out this nonsense the hard way. Apple in general
    has let me down with software that won’t work unless you buy their latest product. And it’s not even their software.
    Dropbox, Youtube, et. al. no longer work for me. They say I need an OS upgrade. When I tried to get one, I found out I need a new computer to run it on. What a con game! They sell you something, break it, then tell you that you have to buy a new one. And these other companies help Apple by messing up their so called free services to you
    unless you pay Apple. Protection money. Shame on them for taking advantage of musicians that are already
    down trodden from club owners and agencies ripping them off.

  2. Imagine a farmer being told by a grocery store, “Your product is very good, but if I pay you for those tomatoes, I’ll never be able to make as much profit – so why don’t you give them to me? Look at the bright side – once people try them, I can sell more!” If I were the grower, I’d head back to the farm and burn the whole damned crop down to avoid the aggravation.
    With the above example in mind, the weak link with these Internet music businesses is that, if all they did was broadcast commercials 24/7, they could never sell enough (if any) ad time to sustain their operations and provide a “guaranteed rate of return” to themselves and their shareholders. Simply put, no one would listen. There must be something of value included to make those commercials palatable … what can it be? And from the bowels of the boardroom, a voice emerges. “Hey, I’ve got it – let’s offer FREE MUSIC. Since we’re giving it away, we shouldn’t have to pay for it either!” Great idea, said the powers that be.
    And so the men in suits got to reward themselves for creating such an “innovative” business model, and the artists got the hose job.
    That’s the way it is in corporate America – take what you can, as cheaply as you can, and if you have to pay anything along the line, for the right price, you can always get that reduced legislatively when your buddies in Congress whip out bills that sound good on the surface – who’s going to to argue against something called the “Internet Radio Fairness Act”?
    Try the artists – this deal certainly isn’t fair to them! But it’s a whole lot more fair to the Internet streaming services who have friends in high places.

  3. I agree that Apple Music certainly has the potential to make artists’ material available to a huge audience and CD Baby has done a good job in ensuring distribution to this platform (for those who want it) among many others. However there are a few points that I feel make it pretty clear that Apple’s motives seem less than altruistic. Firstly, I assumed originally that the 3 month trial period that was widely publicized from the date of launch and I also wondered what impact this would have on retailers who essentially now have a competitor giving away what they have on offer (albeit in physical form) for free. How much more of an undercut can you get?

    But then as I have an album on Apple Music and the articles I have been reading through CD Baby have mentioned that there is also the Connect feature which artists can sign up for I used iTunes on my PC to access Apple Music. After opting for my 3 month free trial (and then ensuring I changed the setting so it wouldn’t automatically continue after the trial period) it became apparent that it was for 3 months from the date I signed up. So actually even after 3 months from launch Apple will still be continuing to give away practically all recordings to people who have newly signed up.

    In addition, when I got the email back from Apple saying that my Connect account had been activated, when I tried to post anything via iTunes I couldn’t work out how. So I sent an email to Apple support and got the following response:

    “Posting to Connect is currently only supported from iOS devices. We appreciate your patience as we work to support more platforms for uploading.”

    So for the time being (who knows how long) only those people with Apple devices will be able to make the most of Apple Music’s full functionality. Hmmmm….. Doesn’t seem very inclusive to me considering their advertising made such bold claims as it was going to open up opportunities for the independent producer.

  4. Yes indeed. The initial plan not paying for the opening period is just absurd. I have nothing else to say than boycott Apple! Those greedy b——-. Goodbye Apple..

  5. Apple’s initial plan not to pay artists for their music during the roll-out of their new product is just the same old tired nonsenses. What if I were to open a grocery store and I told General Foods, Kellogg, etc., that I was going to give away their products during my 90 day opening promotion period and not pay them their products. How do you think that would go? It is plainly and simply a con — a rip-off. Where and how do they get off seeing it as anything other than that? Their argument that they can’t make it if they have to pay is absurd. Let me take some vehicles from GM,. sell them, then keep the money and not pay GM. Then argue that I can’t succeed if I have to pay for the vehicles. Hey, man! I went to college. I studied economics, and business. This is not free enterprise. This is not capitalism. This is simply a scam.

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