Apple Music is launching a $50 million advance royalty fund to help indie labels.
A letter reveals that the fund intends to help labels that earn at least $10,000 each quarter on Apple Music. Indie labels will need a direct Apple Music distribution deal to qualify.
Rolling Stone obtained a copy of the letter, which announced the royalty fund.
“These are difficult times for the music industry globally,” the letter starts. “Livelihoods are at risk, with multiple sources of income that our industry relies on vanishing overnight. Apple has a deep, decades-long history with music, and we are proud to be in close partnership with the best labels and artists in the world. We want to help.”
The live music industry is experiencing life-changing alterations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Huge shows like Ultra Miami and SXSW were canceled in March. Bonnaroo typically happens in June, but organizers postponed the Tennessee music festival to September. Artists like Justin Bieber are giving up on 2020 entirely – his Changes tour won’t start until 2021.
Most musicians rely on live audiences to sustain themselves – they’re now out of work. Some indie musicians are turning to live-streaming on Twitch to support themselves, but that’s not enough. But the damage is quickly going beyond live music, however.
The recorded music industry is slowed to a halt while social distancing and shelter-in-place orders exist. Access to recording studios is almost non-existent. Music streaming is down as people work from home, relying on other forms of entertainment and skipping their usual commutes, workout sessions, and cubicles. Many artists are now pushing back the release dates for their upcoming albums (with the very notable exception of The Weeknd).
The Recording Academy is also establishing a $2 million relief fund through its charity, MusiCares.
Companies like Spotify, Universal Music, Warner Music, TIDAL, and more made donations. Apple Music was conspicuously absent from that list, but now the company is announcing its own fund.