Apple Music wins back indie labels after a Swift U-turn

Eleventh hour deals will make a big difference

Apple's U-turn decision to pay artists for the duration of Apple Music's three-month free trial has worked as Cupertino has just struck up a big deal with Beggars Group and Merlin, two major indie music rights holders.

You might not have heard of Beggars, but the group manages a bunch of labels including XL, Rough Trade, Matador and 4AD, representing acts including Radiohead, Arcade Fire and Adele. Merlin covers a large number of indie labels itself.

The information was revealed by Billboard, who obtained a letter sent to Merlin members by company CEO Charles Caldas.

"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."

Caldas also said that each label will still be able to make its own independent decision as to whether it joins Apple's service.

Karma police

Apple's eleventh-hour signings take place after Taylor Swift posted an open letter that criticised the company for not paying royalties over the three-month trial period.

A number of other artists and labels, including the Beggars Group, also spoke up about the strange decision from a company that prides itself on being pro-artist.

Choosing to respond to Taylor Swift and not the earlier pressures from other labels has led some people to question if this was just Apple taking an opportunity for some positive PR, considering that Spotify ignored Swift's complaints about its free tier.

Meanwhile, the service has landed its first exclusive. Pharrell Williams has given Apple his new single Freedom, which he announced through a short video that ends with "Only on Apple Music". No further details have been announced.