Bloomberg Confirms Digital Music News Report on Apple Music Spatial Audio Royalty Rates

Bloomberg DMN Apple spatial audio royalty
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Bloomberg DMN Apple spatial audio royalty
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Photo Credit: Barbora Dostálová

Two months after Digital Music News reported on Apple’s plan to pay higher royalty payments for spatial audio content, Bloomberg has confirmed the news.

In a leaked email sent to Digital Music News back in October, Apple Music shared that it would offer increased compensation for music that supports spatial audio listening. DMN reported on the memo on October 20th, and now in December, Bloomberg is confirming the move.

“Starting next year, the company plans to give added weighting to streams of songs that are mixed in Dolby Atmos technology,” the report reads. That has the potential to generate higher royalty payments for artists who embrace the technology alongside Apple. The original wording of the email reviewed by Digital Music News suggests the increased royalties will reach all eligible content owners and distributors globally.

“To recognize the creative investment and value that high-quality spatial audio brings to both fans and artists, we will be making changes to how royalties are calculated,” the email reads. “Plays of content available in spatial audio will receive a higher royalty value.”

The email asks recipients to review and accept the new agreement for each applicable territory, though it doesn’t give any suggestions about the higher royalty rate. What’s clear is that Apple is hoping to use the higher royalty rates to encourage artists to release more Dolby Atmos mixes. It’s also worth noting that Apple is the sponsor of this year’s upcoming Super Bowl Half-Time Show after taking over from Pepsi’s sponsorship of the show.

Will higher royalty rates help convince artists to embrace the format?

Apple’s release of the upcoming Vision Pro headset certainly demands availability of immersive audio. But it’s unclear whether music listeners are embracing the format. Many classic remixes in the format have been critically panned as engineers struggle to create mixes that embrace the new tech without alienating familiar listeners who prefer the stereo sound.

Spatial audio gives musicians and engineers the capability to create a sculptural experience for music listeners, but not every genre benefits. Classical music spatial audio mixes can allow certain instruments to shine with a wider dynamic range—bringing a concert hall-like experience to the living room. But do you really want to listen to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club in spatial audio?