On June 30, 2015, Apple Inc. made a worldwide debut of its new music streaming service, Apple Music. Their vision for Apple Music was for it to be “a single, intuitive app that combines the best ways to enjoy music – all in one place . . . . a revolutionary streaming music service, a pioneering worldwide live radio station from Apple broadcasting 24 hours a day and a great new way for music fans to connect with their favorite artists.” Since its release, it has grown exponentially, having well over 50 million current subscribers and free trial users as of June of this year, and Apple has claimed that it is now at the top of music streaming services in North America.
Well it seems that Apple is now ready to take their music streaming services to another plateau. On November 29, Apple filed a new trademark for “Apple Music For Business,” with a description of “broadcast and transmission of streamed music, audio, video, and multimedia content by means of radio, television, internet, and satellite for business use” (U.S. Serial No. 88210568). As it currently stands, Apple doesn’t have a version of Apple Music specifically geared towards businesses, but this trademark filing shows that they might be working on a solution to a problem that some would argue, is getting out of hand.
In October of this year, a study conducted by Nielsen Music discovered that holders of music rights are losing approximately $2.65 billion annually, due to small businesses that play background music in their stores, through the personal streaming accounts of their employees (or other consumers). Even Andreas Liffgarden, the co-founder and chairman of ‘Soundtrack Your Brand’ have gone on record, saying that “we need a new generation of B2B streaming services, attractive to business owners, that make sure music makers get fair compensation.” If music-rights holders are gearing up to butt heads with business owners for compensation for playing their music in various stores, Apple may be acting very strategically by working on a music streaming service for businesses.
You might be wondering what exactly the problem is with people playing music throughout a business on their own personal accounts? Someone is paying for the account, so who cares, right? Is this another plot for money-hungry corporations and rich-music rights holders to get even more money? Well, the issue is a bit more complicated than money-hungry mega corporations and rich people just trying to get more money.
“[M]usic streaming services come in two forms — B2C (Business to Consumer) and B2B (Business to Business). The core music streaming services offered by companies like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and Pandora, are all B2C — built for consumers, not businesses. This means [that] they are licensed for private, non-commercial use (perfect to use at home with your friends & family). You need a Public Performance License (PPL) to play music in public places, including your customers and employees.”
This is because, as they further explain, when you play music from these sources (or even from music you purchased from iTunes) as background music in your business, that act is considered a public performance, and without a PPL, you would be violating U.S. copyright law.
Typically, in order for a business to be able to stream music in their stores, the business would first obtain licenses from performing rights organizations (PROs), which in the U.S., includes the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), (Global Music Rights) GMR, and SESAC (originally known as the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers).
Well, if things end up working out in Apple’s favor, you might be seeing a whole lot of businesses sign up for Apple Music accounts sooner rather than later.