This Again? Apple Still Hasn’t Secured Indie, Publishing Deals

Apple has yet to secure critical indie or publishing deals ahead of its cloud-based music launch, according to sources speaking with Digital Music News.

Instead, three out of four major labels have now been signed, with Universal Music Group waiting in the wings. Sound familiar?

This is a complicated terrain, and sources noted that some deals may exist here-and-there.  But on the indie side, the unsigned list includes heavyweight consortium Merlin, which still seems to be trudging through negotiations (though neither side was willing to talk).  Traditionally, Merlin finds itself deprioritized behind the majors, and handed ‘sloppy seconds’ on deal terms.

And publishing?  “I am not aware of any publishing license that has been secured,” National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) president David Israelite told Digital Music News.  That said, Israelite noted that private publisher-to-Apple deals could exist, though nothing has been circulated to the broader publishing community.

Adding to the complexity, major label groups have publishing divisions, though whether those were included in recent, cloud-focused contracts remains unclear.  Just recently, Apple negotiated extensions to its iTunes preview clips with the majors, but seemed to omit publishing licenses entirely.  That caused numerous delays and complications.

Which raises the question: Can Apple finalize its Universal Music Group deal, as well as proper publishing and indie deals by the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 6th?  Historically, licensing discussions and aggressive deadlines rarely dance…

One Response

  1. Muckraker

    Bravo… finally someone mentioning where the majority of music will eventually come from. Why are we letting these 4 (3?) corporations set the rates, rules and entry for the rest of us?

    Reminds me of the itunes dustup with CdBaby and Sivers…