Record Labels Can Choose Which Albums and Tracks are Streamable on Apple Music, and When Streaming Is Allowed

Apple Music is launching in a week, amid a great deal of controversy. Taylor Swift made a lot of noise, saying that she wasn’t going to allow her latest album to be streamed on Apple Music during the three-month free trial period, nudging Apple to change their policy. However, Ms Swift seemed quite happy to allow her other albums to be streamed.

It’s important to highlight the fact that record labels don’t have to opt in to Apple Music for all their music. They can choose whether or not a given album, or track, is streamable.

Apple music cleared

As you can see above, there is a checkbox to clear an album for sale, and another to clear it for Apple Music. (Drilling down in the iTunes Connect interface, labels can also choose which territories this applies to.) There is also a Cleared for Apple Music date, so a label could release an album for sale on the iTunes Store, and allow it to be streamed, say, three months later.

This latter feature is probably what we’ll see for major releases, and this gives Apple a big advantage over other streaming services. Since Apple sells and streams, labels will be able to manage both with a windowing strategy (allowing different uses at different times).

My guess is that labels who are allowing their music to be streamed will take advantage of this Apple Music Start Date to ensure sales in the first months after an album is released. But this highlights the fact that Apple Music users may not be able to stream new releases; it will depend on each label, and each album.

3 thoughts on “Record Labels Can Choose Which Albums and Tracks are Streamable on Apple Music, and When Streaming Is Allowed

  1. “label could release an album for sale on the iTunes Store, and allow it to be streamed, say, three months later. This latter feature is probably what we’ll see for major releases”

    If I’m paying $10/mo., I want access to all releases day-and-date. That’s what Spotify has…. why would I pick Apple Music over them if I can’t hear my favorite artists newest releases right away?

    “this gives Apple a big advantage over other streaming services”

    In the eyes of the labels, perhaps. Doesn’t seem very customer-friendly though.

    • Spotify doesn’t have day and date for everything, look at Taylor Swift as one example. I think that balancing purchases and streaming is the best way to ensure that musicians make a decent living, yet still providing low-cost access to back catalog. I don’t think most people think that way, and essentially want a smorgasbord of music, but it seems like a more sustainable model, and one that could incite more labels to join the service.

    • I don’t see how labels will prefer one service over another, especially when Apple Music will pay a bit more. If the album is released for streaming in Spotify, it will be release for streaming in Apple Music.
      On the other hand, It’s likely that there will be more exclusive albums for Apple Music than Spotify, considering Apple war chest.

Leave a Comment