The Beatles Are Coming to Apple Music on Christmas Eve

The full music collection of The Beatles will be available on Apple Music and other music streaming services on Christmas Eve, according to a new report from Re/code. The report comes a week after a similar report from Billboard, which said that The Beatles were coming to a streaming service on Christmas Eve but did not specify which one.

The world’s most famous band will finally be available on streaming music services, starting this Thursday, Christmas Eve. And they’ll be available very, very widely: Industry sources say that the Fab Four’s music will be on all of the obvious music services, including Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and Tidal, as well as some you might not expect, including Amazon’s Prime Music.

The only music service that won’t have full access to The Beatles’ catalog is Pandora, which doesn’t do direct deals with music owners. However, Pandora does offer some access to select Beatles songs on its web radio service. Additionally, The Beatles’ catalog will also be available on music services’ free tiers, unlike artists like Taylor Swift.

The Beatles’ catalog originally appeared on iTunes back in 2010, giving Apple exclusive rights to the digital distribution of the famous band’s music until 2011. More recently, „The Beatles: +1“ collection debuted on iTunes, packaged with remastered versions of hit songs and mini-movies made by the famous quartet.

Update: The Beatles have confirmed their music will be available on Apple Music and eight other streaming music services worldwide on December 24 at 12:01 a.m. local time.

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Apple Yet to Contact Indie Publishers for Apple Music Streaming Rights [iOS Blog]

With exactly two weeks until the launch of Apple Music, details about the revenue sharing model for the streaming music service continue to emerge. Billboard reports that Apple has yet to contact independent music publishers about Apple Music, leading many indie labels to believe that the Cupertino-based company will soon send a bulk email to publishers with an opt-in contract attached.

Apple will reportedly offer indie music publishers a headline rate of 13.5% revenue, higher than the 12% it pays for iTunes Match and 10% it pays for iTunes Radio. Apple will pay indie labels slightly higher rates than the industry standard, contributing to Apple Music’s overall 71.5% revenue sharing, in return for making no royalty payments during the three-month free trial it will offer consumers.

„That free trial, with no payments being made to rights holders, precluded Apple from taking advantage of the statutory licenses that most interactive streaming services use. Under that statutory license, Apple must send notices of intent (NOIs) to publishers with a list of the songs they plan to use, and then make payment to publishers using a three-tier formula approved by the Copyright Royalty Board.“

The 13.5% headline rate is reportedly part of a larger payment formula that will be used to determine royalties paid to rights holders.

Apple Music was announced last week as an all-in-one streaming music service, live global radio station and social platform for artists to connect with fans. The subscription-based service will be available June 30 for $9.99 per month after a three-month free trial period for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and PC. Apple TV and Android versions of the service will be available in the fall.





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Apple’s new music streaming service said to cost $9.99 a month, launching in June

Music labels have reportedly refused to lower their prices for Apple’s new streaming service – but the company may be willing to pay big money to ‘lock in’ labels and artists with exclusivity deals. Read more…



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Apple Still Tweaking iTunes Music Store Algorithms, Restored Editorial Focus Pleases Indies [Mac Blog]

Following several months of experimentation with how it curates the music portion of its iTunes Store, Apple has rolled back some of those changes to restore an emphasis on editorial rather than sales-based criteria, according to Billboard.

The news comes after a few independent record labels voiced concern over their artists being lost under the better-performing singers and albums of bigger labels. The company has apparently to not fully eliminate sales-based algorithms for deciding on what content to feature, but have „toned down“ that aspect to allow editorial discretion to once again steer the offerings on iTunes’ main page.

After a few weeks of experimenting with that presentation, the iTunes teamed toned down the algorithm and re-asserted the role that editorial discretion has in choosing which music is highlighted in the store. „iTunes will always be driven by editorial discretion,“ says a source who is familiar with Apple’s online store philosophy. „Editorial choice will always be at the heart of what music is featured in the store.“

Despite the introduction of the sales-focused algorithm towards the end of 2014 and into the new year, the indie music market still found itself fairly well-represented on the storefront. As Billboard reports, the sector got 40 percent of carousel ads on the main page of iTunes, 50 percent of the „New Music“ section, 37 percent of the „Hot Tracks“ section, and 20 percent of what Apple calls the „Bricks“, the rectangular-shaped ads populating the store.

Indie labels were worried that they would get lost in the shuffle with all the changes happening in the iTunes Store. They were concerned that a sales velocity algorithm playing a strong role in determining what would be featured in its sliders would bolster the advantage of the majors, who tend to have bigger-selling records.

Various other concerns of smaller labels were alleviated, as well, including iTunes’ ongoing effort to clean up song duplicates in the storefront, to an extent where some songs were taken down despite being in compliance with the company’s rules. But, as one indie executive noted, if a proper case is made to bring back the music, Apple will listen. „iTunes are flexible; they are not an account who says ‘its our way or the highway.'“

Perhaps the biggest shift on the back-end of iTunes relates to how pre-order numbers factor into album sales. Previously, pre-order numbers were added to launch day sales, rocketing popular pre-release albums to the top of charts on release. The new configuration wipes pre-order figures away on launch day and starts all albums on level ground, requiring albums to garner successful day one-and-onward launches to hit the top spots.

Apple has been steadily building up iTunes in preparation for the future integration with Beats Music this year. The company has most recently hired BBC Radio DJ Zane Lowe to possibly work on its iTunes Radio service and acquired media analytics company Semetric to integrate its Musicmetric tracking service into the iTunes/Beats refresh. Apple has also been seeking expertise in music journalism, perhaps to fill out editorial content appearing alongside listings in the iTunes Store.




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33 million people ‘experience’ U2′s free album in a week

Apple had to give users a tool to permanently remove U2′s freebie album from their iTunes account, but according to Eddie Cue the album is a colossal hit and has been ‘experienced’ by 33 million iTunes account holders since its…Read more ›



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Apple’s Acquisition of Beats Could Be Delayed Because of Valuation, Roles, and More

Last week, reports indicated that Apple’s acquisition of Beats would not be finalized until this week. With the week ending and no deal having been announced, a new Billboard report offers insight into what could be holding up the deal.

Billboard’s sources indicate the deal „is complicated“, as it would be Apple’s largest acquisition. In addition, the news apparently leaked „too early“, with Apple nowhere near ready for news to break despite publications like Re/code and The Financial Times reporting that the deal is close to completion.

A video that was uploaded to YouTube of actor/musician Tyrese alongside Beats co-founder Dr. Dre is another possible reason for the delay, with Dre claiming that he was the first billionaire in hip hop after the deal. The video apparently „freaked Apple out“ and had the Cupertino company outraged.

Apparently, the Apple family near imploded with outrage when that video went up on Facebook of an ‘excited’ Dr. Dre with R&B singer/former Coca Cola pin-up Tyrese. In the video they share, in language perhaps unsuitable for a family blog, how Dre will be hip-hop’s first billionaire and other nice things about Compton.

Fourth, Apple allegedly isn’t sure whether to give Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre roles as permanent consultants or whether to give them full-time executive roles. Apple is also apparently unsure whether the two of them would fit into the company’s corporate climate, despite reports that Iovine and Dre are the „big prizes“ of the acquisition.

Finally, another rumored sticking point is Apple’s valuation of Beats Music, which has around 200,000 subscribers and has been speculated as one of the main reasons behind the acquisition. Apple is apparently planning to keep Beats Music separate entity from iTunes in order to avoid cannibalization of iTunes music sales.

Apple pundit John Gruber of Daring Fireball offered another scenario, discrediting the Billboard report and speculating that Beats may have leaked to the deal, angering Apple and scuttling the acquisition before it could be completed.




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Beats Music’s Subscriber Base Pegged at Just 111,000

A new screenshot shared by The Trichordist (via The Guardian) allegedly reveals that the Beats Music service had only about 111,000 subscriber accounts during the month of March, indicating that Apple is indeed likely to be purchasing Beats for some combination of its headphones business, streaming technology, brand, and industry connections rather than the existing subscription service.

An acquisition by Apple would undoubtedly boost exposure for the Beats Music service, and potential tie-ins with Apple’s existing iTunes services would offer a strong platform for growth, meaning that Apple is likely relatively unconcerned with the small subscriber base.

The leaked royalty sheet breaks down the subscriber numbers according to the available plans, and of the roughly 111,000 accounts, just under 50,000 were individual accounts while 61,621 were joint „family“ accounts available through a promotional arrangement with AT&T. Beats Music has not released subscriber numbers, but this leaked sheet appears to corroborate an earlier report from Billboard that claims Beats’ early subscriber estimates have been „disappointing“ to music label executives.

Apple had reportedly been impressed with the subscription conversion rate for Beats, although it is not entirely clear from the chart where those users are accounted for. Roughly 70% of total plays fall under a „promotional royalty rate“ category, with the remaining being subject to standard royalty calculations, although it is unclear what criteria cause a play to be placed in either of the two categories.

Looking at the individual subscriptions, the numbers show that Beats pays out approximately 65% of its revenue to rightsholders, similar to other streaming services, with labels receiving by far the largest chunk and songwriters receiving only a tiny slice through their performance rights organizations (PROs).

Apple is reportedly acquiring Beats Electronics for music industry veteran Jimmy Iovine and musician Dr. Dre, both of whom may play a crucial role in Apple’s future music strategy. The Cupertino company also will receive a high-margin headphone business that could be help Apple attract a wealthier and younger clientele.




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