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Thanks, Taylor Swift: Indy icons Merlin and Beggars join Apple Music

June 24, 2015, 11:52 AM UTC
Taylor Swift performs The 1989 World Tour show onstage at the Rock in Rio USA music festival, May 15, 2015, at the MGM Resorts Festival Grounds in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Robyn Beck — AFP/Getty Images

The Taylor Swift effect continues to ripple across the music industry.

According to Billboard, two independent music umbrella groups—the digital rights organization Merlin and Martin Mills’ Beggars Group—have dropped their resistance to the new Apple Music streaming service set to begin next week.

Merlin and Beggars are long-tail powerhouses. Merlin represents some 20,000 independent music labels and distributors. Beggars, which dates back to the young Rolling Stones, launched the careers of Adele, Jack White, M.I.A. and Radiohead, among many others.

Beggars had been a particularly vocal opponent to Apple’s terms, complaining publicly when the company promoted its paid streaming service with music by artists who hadn’t signed on.

Taylor Swift changed all that.

“We don’t ask you for free iPhones,” she wrote in her Sunday Tumber post to Apple. “Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”

That did the trick. Apple capitulated. And now the indies are coming on board.

In letter to Merlin members obtained by Billboard, CEO Charles Caldas signaled his support:

“I am pleased to say that Apple has made a decision to pay for all usage of Apple Music under the free trials on a per-play basis, as well as to modify a number of other terms that members had been communicating directly with Apple about. With these changes, we are happy to support the deal.”

Apple had already signed the major music labels. Now, thanks to TS, it has most of the rest.

And a ton of free publicity and good will to boot.

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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