According to reports, Apple would compensate musicians who provide music in spatial audio.

Higher payments to musicians for just providing music in the format, even if no one streams it, might result from this.

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Record companies and musicians that release their music in spatial audio—a relatively new audio format that is more immersive than standard stereo—will receive rewards from Apple. According to a Bloomberg article, musicians who release their music in spatial audio would earn “added weighting” starting next year. Bloomberg speculates that this may result in increased royalties.

The company’s decision to reward artists is most likely an attempt to ensure that the majority of the music available on Apple Music is available in a format that Apple has positioned as a selling point. This is because almost all of Apple’s audio hardware, including AirPods, HomePod, the iPhone, and the upcoming Vision Pro headset, supports playback in spatial audio. Remarkably, Bloomberg points out that musicians would still get paid even if Apple Music users didn’t stream a song in spatial audio. It would be sufficient to only have their songs available in that format.

In 2021, Apple expanded the Dolby Atmos-powered spatial audio feature of Apple Music. The majority of the studio’s original films and television series are available in the format on Apple TV+. Artists can also choose to mix their previous albums in the new format; bands from all eras are already doing this. According to Bloomberg, the cost of mixing music for the format isn’t very high; if this is accurate, this initiative may encourage independent artists and lesser performers to participate.

Some Apple Music competitors like Amazon Music and Tidal also provide spatial audio on their platforms. Although rumors of a high-quality audio format on the service have been circulating for years, Spotify, Apple’s main competition in the music streaming market, is a noteworthy exception.

Updated at 5:07 PM ET on January 22, 2024: According to a recent 9to5Mac story, Apple began paying musicians 10% more in royalties in January if they sell their songs in spatial audio on Apple songs.

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