More Spatial Audio tracks could flood into Apple Music as artists encouraged by 10% royalty boost for surround sound format streams

Spatial Audio Apple Music
(Image credit: Future)

Apple Music will now pay up to 10% more to artists who create music in its immersive spatial audio format, as the company looks to push its surround sound format. 

According to Music Business Worldwide, from January “music available in Spatial Audio on Apple Music will receive a greater share of royalties from the platform.” The report says Apple sent an update to its label partners confirming that beginning with January 2024’s month-end payments “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”.

That means that artists who make spatial audio content and can get their fans to stream it will receive a 10% boost in royalties. As the report notes, Bloomberg reported in December that Apple may also give extra weight to spatial audio songs, possibly indicating they may be more visible and prevalent on playlists, radio stations, and more. 

Tune in to more spatial audio 

The news was also reported by 9to5Mac, which claims that “Apple Music users do not necessarily have to listen in Spatial Audio for the artist to be rewarded with the bonus payout.” According to that report, bonus payouts are calculated “based on the proportion of Spatial Available to Non-Spatial Available plays.” So if an artist’s music is all available in spatial audio, they’ll get a 10% royalty bonus even if listeners don’t play those versions. The report further states that “Apple says more than 90% of subscribers have tried listening to a song in Spatial Audio” on Apple Music. 

9to5 reports Apple sees the 10% bonus as a reward for making higher quality content and compensation for the extra time the mixing requires. While the implementation might sound confusing, Apple is clearly basing the incentive payout on artists making spatial music available, rather than on whether fans actually choose to listen to it. This is important because, while devices like AirPods Pro and AirPods Max support the format, not all headphones do. Furthermore, not all listeners enjoy spatial audio and some may simply choose not to listen in that format. 

A 10% increase in streaming royalties is a significant bump for artists, so expect to see plenty more spatial audio tracks arriving on Apple Music very soon.

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9