Digital Music News first reported on the possibility of Apple paying higher royalties for spatial audio content after reviewing a leaked email back in October 2023. Now, multiple reports are confirming what those higher royalty rates might be.
Bloomberg first confirmed the DMN report in December 2023, describing the higher royalty rates as an incentive to get artists on board with making their work available in the format. The initial email that Digital Music News reviewed stated “to recognize the creative investment and value that high-quality spatial audio brings to both fans and artists, we will be making changes to how royalties are calculated. Plays of content available in spatial audio will receive a higher royalty value.”
At the time, the email did not make clear what the higher royalty value would be. New reporting from Billboard seems to confirm that the higher rate will be up to 10% more than content not available in Dolby Atmos.
“Pro-rata shares for ‘Spatial Available’ plays will be calculated using a factor of 1.1 while ‘Non-Spatial Available’ plays will continue to use a factor of 1,” the email reviewed by Billboard reads. “This change is not only meant to reward higher quality content, but also to ensure that artists are being compensated for the time and investment they put into mixing spatial.”
This letter also gives us a peek at some of the stats Apple Music is touting when it comes to the spatial audio format. According to the letter, more than 90% of Apple Music listeners have listened to spatial audio and plays for the format have tripled in the last two years. Apple Music also states that the number of tracks available in the format have increased 5,000% since launch—and that number has doubled in 2023 alone.
Apple first made its spatial audio content debut on May 17, 2021—throwing a wrench into Spotify’s plans of upselling spatial audio under a Spotify HiFi banner the same year. That plan from Spotify has still yet to materialize, more than two years on. Meanwhile, Apple Music’s higher royalty rates for spatial audio will encourage even more adoption—perhaps among older recordings, too.