French Indie Label Body UPFI Turns Its Nose Up at Apple Music's Controversial Free Trial
Add French independent labels body UPFI to the chorus of concerned industry leaders about Apple's planned three-month giveaway of Apple Music. Echoing similar concerns from the Beggars Group, Australian body AIR and U.S.-based A2IM, the French indies are showing their "deep dissatisfaction" with the conditions of Apple Music's launch, namely the apparent loss of income for rights holders during the free trial.
In an open letter published Thursday, the UFPI was gracious in its praise of Apple's "innovative brand" but had stern words for the rollout of the company's much-anticipated digital music service. Like others, the UFPI has taken issue with the lack of consultation between Apple and indie label groups, saying the hurried pace "gives the feeling that Apple intends to impose its terms without the possibility of real negotiations prior."
The letter added, "This attitude is clearly likely to have serious adverse consequences for our members in the short term."
But the most damaging aspect of Apple Music's launch, according to the letter, will be the "total" lack of compensation for independent labels during the three months that people receive free music. That's a huge financial risk for many smaller labels, especially if they are depending on the success of albums released during that trial window.
"By doing so, Apple may cause a loss of income which may be considerable for all labels whose activity is based on the release of new products, and even more so when their economic balance depends on the success of a title or an album during the free period," they said. "This attitude is all the more shocking as it is supporting the music production community financing the marketing launch of their service."
The letter goes on to state that Apple is imposing "unacceptable launch conditions for all independent labels" and that "this one takes the risk undermining the spirit of cooperation which must prevail in our relations. If, as she suggests, Apple has a deep respect for the music and the artists must review the conditions of launch of Apple Music and ensuring that independent labels are not forced to bear the financial cost."
The UPFI's statement adds to disappointment voiced by similar indie trade bodies in Australia and the U.S. On Wednesday, the Beggars Group -- which includes 4AD, Matador, Rough Trade and XL Recordings -- questioned why indie labels, artists and rights owners should bear the cost of Apple Music's launch by forgoing payments. "In many ways the deal structure is very progressive, but unfortunately it was created without reference to us, or as far as we know any independents, and as such unsurprisingly presents problems for us, and for our coming artist releases," the Beggars statement said.