Copyright regulators in the US are currently working out ways of improving the incredibly complex system for calculating how much artists get paid when one of their songs is streamed on Spotify, Google Play Music, Apple Music or any of the other services.
Apple has put forward a proposal of its own, according to Billboard, where music makers get 9.1 cents for every 100 plays (which is the same as they get for one digital download). That sounds straightforward enough, but it means companies pay for individual streams rather than out of their revenue as a whole.
That would leave services that offer free tiers - hello Spotify - paying out more money. Apple Music, of course, doesn't have a free option, although you do get the option of a three-month trial if you're a brand new user. Apple itself hasn't made any comment on the reported proposals.
That's just the price I pay
There's nothing to say this proposal is going to be accepted by the US Copyright Royalty Board, however, and the likes of Google, Amazon, Spotify and other interested parties are all expected to offer up their own suggestions for payment plans in the days ahead.
Billboard says Apple's intentions are to make the system "fair, simple and transparent", though Spotify will no doubt fiercely oppose it - the Swedish company believes letting users sign up for free is an essential part of getting people to pay later on.
The artists tend to disagree, and have been putting pressure on the likes of Spotify and YouTube to make it harder for casual listeners to hear tunes without paying anything up front. The new rules will apply from 2018 to 2022.
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