Apple Music incentivizes artists to release Spatial Audio music with royalty bump

in Apple Music
Apple Music hopes to increase its Spatial Audio music offering by paying artists up to 10% more royalties as long as they've published songs in the format.

Red Apple Music icon set against a red background
Apple Music

Dolby Atmos music, which Apple has dubbed Spatial Audio music,
launched in 2021 on Apple Music. The feature has proven popular for the service, but Apple wants more artists taking part in the format.

In what was likely an email to Apple Music artists seen by 9to5Mac, Apple is encouraging artists to make their music available in Spatial Audio. As long as an artist has tracks available in Spatial Audio, the artist is eligible for royalties up to 10% higher from Apple.

The payout doesn't rely on what Apple Music users listen to on the service. Instead, it is determined by the proportion of Spatial Audio songs to non-Spatial Audio songs.

For example, for artists to get the full 10% incentive, they'll have to offer all of their music in Spatial Audio.

Apple shared that 90% of users have at least tried listening to a song in Spatial Audio, plus plays in the format have tripled since the 2021 launch. The number of songs available in Spatial Audio has increased by nearly 5,000%, doubling in 2023 alone.

Apple sees the higher royalty percentage as both an incentive and a reward. The company wants more high-quality music on its platform but also addresses that recording audio for Dolby Atmos tracks is a higher effort.

Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 7
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 631member
    The last thing anyone needs is for music to altered from the way the creator intended it to be. It is like editing a movie to fit within a time block or reformatting a 16:9 to fit a 4:3 display. Not what the created intended.
  • Reply 2 of 7
    jimh2 said:
    The last thing anyone needs is for music to altered from the way the creator intended it to be. It is like editing a movie to fit within a time block or reformatting a 16:9 to fit a 4:3 display. Not what the created intended.
    I see it as more the opposite of those examples. Editing a 16:9 movie to fit into 4:3 is taking away from the original film. Same with editing a movie to shorten it and fit within a time block. 

    Mastering a song for Spatial Audio is more like digitally restoring or remastering an old film that may have degraded over time or remastering the audio for surround sound. Sure, it won't be exactly the same as the original, but the changes are more to do with additional benefits of modern technology that weren't available at the time of recording. 

    It's not always done well though (in music or film) so I can definitely see why you would be concerned. There are times when a song in spatial audio makes the song worse, similar to how many people view the digital changes George Lucas made to the original Star Wars films as making them worse. 

    The difference with spatial audio on Apple Music though is you can still listen to the originals if you prefer. For the most part I prefer the Spatial Audio masters but there are a few songs where I feel (for my own personal tastes) that the original is better. 
  • Reply 3 of 7
    jimh2 said:
    The last thing anyone needs is for music to altered from the way the creator intended it to be. It is like editing a movie to fit within a time block or reformatting a 16:9 to fit a 4:3 display. Not what the created intended.
    You have no idea what you are talking about. A music creator wants their music to be heard live. Special Audio is the closest thing you can get to that outside of going to a live event. 
  • Reply 4 of 7
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,329member
    As others have noted, the actual music you enjoy was NOT recorded with two groups of musicians all huddled together on the left and right side of the studio, so in point of fact Dolby Atmos/Spatial Audio is MORE TRUE to the way the music was recorded and originally mixed in studio, at least for any music recorded in the last 40 years or so.

    Listening to the original tapes in a studio is a VERRRRY different experience to listening to the record or CD at home, I assure you.

    Certainly, Spatial Audio is not appropriate for all music (archival recordings that only exist in mono springs to mind, but there are other examples), but clearly Apple’s letter is aimed at musicians who are still active/recording, who might be willing to remaster their stuff (which needs to be done with most older recordings anyway, and has been happening on a huge scale). With some care, the Atmos/Spatial mix should be MORE like the actual original recording, not less.

    I’m glad Apple is encouraging this AND compensating artists for the extra cost of remastering for Atmos/Spatial.
    edited January 22 lolliverwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 7
    I love Spatial Audio a lot. 

    It really revolutionized music. 

    Many old álbuns are totally new in Spatial 
  • Reply 6 of 7
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,413member
    There's nothing scientific about this at all. It simply comes down to what you personally find to be most pleasing to you. It's impossible to attribute a common and non subjective statement of "high quality" or "authenticity" or "true" or "as it was intended" sound of what ends up on a production once everything's been mixed in the studio to the approval of whomever has the final say in what gets released. The artists themselves don't always have final say in the matter.

    As far as where the artists are standing or grouped on a studio production, it doesn't always matter. They may not even be in the same room, at the same location, or at the same time when the tracks are recorded. And there are still plenty of groups that all huddle around a single microphone with their voices and instruments. There are also instances where the original artist recordings, even live recordings, get remixed and run through post processing with things like pitch correction and autotune applied seemingly without the artist's consent. As far as live recordings are concerned, unless everyone in the audience is somehow stacked exactly in the same physical location, everyone in the audience is hearing a different rendition of the performance. Which listener constitutes the one "true" recording of the performance to replicate their experience of the event?

    I like having a choice and find some mixes to be more enjoyable than others. Sometimes the spatial effects, and even stereo, are an improvement and sometimes they add nothing or detract from my tastes. Apple obviously wants to incentivize music creators to produce content that accentuate the features that differentiate Apple's products from competing products. I have no problem with that. If artists have to do more work to fulfil Apple's special requests the artists (or whomever owns the music) should absolutely receive additional compensation. 
  • Reply 7 of 7
    I've heard some amazing Spatial mixes, and some that were dismal! 

    I love when the engineer takes the original 4,8,16,32,64 (or more) track recordings and moves them with the intent of taking the original stereo into a multidimensional space. 

    I read an article about the Beatles library being remixed and the engineer (perhaps Giles Martin, son of George Martin) spoke of what he'd learned in the process of remixing the albums and that he wanted to start over with the first one using his experience to do them even better. Unfortunately i can't find that article to link.

    I saw Pink Floyd at the Montreal Forum in 1987 for the Momentary Lapse of Reason tour where several songs had the sound rush from behind us toward the stage- it was shocking and extraordinary! It was used to emphasize the theme of the song, not just the gimmick of "we can have random sounds come from the back speakers."

    It is amazing that I can finally easily access music that is crafted to use the surround space! I've heard some of my favorites music make incredible use of that space! Sadly, I don't see that Pink Floyd album in spatial, though I just found Dark Side does have a spatial remix in Apple Music.

    Obviously I'm a fan when it's coherent with the music. Looking forward to more artists joining in.

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