Apple isn't even trying to hide the fact that it's out for streaming blood right now
Apple doesn't like Spotify, and Spotify doesn't like Apple. It's like one is a Kardashian and the other (presumably Apple Music) is the Taylor Swift. Lots of bickering, lots of snakes in the grass.
In its latest proposal to the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board, Apple suggests there be a flat rate paid to songwriters and publishers from streaming numbers. This, naturally, benefits them while killing off companies who rely on a free tier to acquire subscribers. But Apple calls it a simplified way to circumvent the current confusion — a price structure that's so convoluted and bizarre that most lawyers would probably have a hard time figuring it out if given the chance.
If the tech giant gets its way, however, it would mean more payouts for companies like Spotify and YouTube, two streaming competitors that are staying afloat with free-based systems.
Basically, what Apple is suggesting, is a flat rate of $910 (or $0.00091 per interactive stream) for one million plays. Since it's negotiated its own terms with publishers, Apple wouldn't even have to pay what it's suggesting. Not entirely.
"Right now, Apple and most other companies don’t pay royalties to major publishers at the statutory rate set by the Copyright Royalty Board, since they negotiate their own deals," writes Robert Levine for BIllboard. "But they pay that rate to publishers with which they can’t make direct deals. Perhaps more importantly, the judges’ decisions shape private negotiations between publishers and streaming services."
As it's set up now, companies like Spotify pay based off a lot of different variables. If a user is listening to a song on its free tier, royalties are different and calculated per ad revenue. It can be a much lower payout for artists than if someone was listening to the same song on a paid subscription. All companies in the streaming war have spent many years and countless millions trying to get users to pay monthly for just this reason. If the common fan pays every month, it's better for everyone involved.
Apple has never hidden its disdain for the free-based model, either. Remember that one time Taylor Swift 'wrote' an open letter to Apple and everyone believed it? It was a scam, a marketing ploy, but it did highlight a lot of problems with the current models of online listening. For one, artists, writers, producers — you know, the people who actually make music — are being screwed. Swift doesn't want anything to be changed other than the flow into her own pocket, but at least the appropriate sentiment was there.
That, along with other calculated attacks by Apple Music, are looking to manipulate the way listeners think about music.
But a proposal is just that, a proposal. There isn't any indication that Apple's plan is going to be enacted any time soon, if at all. What we're seeing is likely another pawn move by a corporate behemoth to shift the game to their benefit. That's what most news releases are nowadays anyways, calculated maneuvers.
What with companies losing millions and millions of dollars per quarter, the current system is obviously flawed, at the very least. If that means free-based models don't work or if labels and gate-keepers are taking way too much off the block, who knows, but getting to an area where everyone is happy (if even possible) isn't going to come overnight.
Lots more snakes about to reveal themselves in the next couple of years.
Business is business, after all.