David Byrne couldn’t get Apple Music to explain its royalty calculations

By , Aug 2 2015

Industry veteran calls for more transparency in new op-ed.

David Byrne has contributed an op-ed to The New York Times about streaming, using it to further growing calls among artists for transparency in how major labels disburse payments from streaming services among artists and rights holders.

Of particular interest is Byrne’s claim to have asked Apple Music to explain the royalty calculations for the three-month trial period, only to be told to get lawyers talking if he wanted to find out more.

“I asked Apple Music to explain the calculation of royalties for the trial period,” he writes. “They said they disclosed that only to copyright owners (that is, the labels). I have my own label and own the copyright on some of my albums, but when I turned to my distributor, the response was, ‘You can’t see the deal, but you could have your lawyer call our lawyer and we might answer some questions.'”

Elsewhere the ex-Talking Heads member points out that labels are assigning income from streaming services arbitrarily and that additional income from owning equity in the platforms does not get shared with artists.

This isn’t Byrne’s first public discussion about streaming, though it comes at a crucial time and raises important questions about where exactly all this money from streaming – often claimed as the industry’s saviour – is going. At the moment it would appear to be in the pockets of the music industry itself, as usual.

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