Publishing News

Apple Music Boosts Royalties for Music Available In Spatial Audio

Feb 3, 2024

Starting this January 2024, music that is accessible in Spatial Audio on Apple Music is set to receive an increased share of royalties from the platform.

In a communication sent to its label partners on  January 22nd 2024, Apple Music confirmed that content available in Spatial Audio will now be entitled to a royalty rate up to 10% higher compared to content not accessible in Spatial Audio.This means, as of the end of January 2024, the pro-rata shares for plays of Spatial-available content will be calculated with a factor of 1.1, while plays of Non-Spatial available content will maintain the existing factor of 1.

Whether you’re a music enthusiast or a music creator, here’s what you need to know:

What exactly is Spatial Audio?

Spatial Audio can mean different things in different contexts, but is currently most commonly associated with Apple’s approach to creating an engaging audio experience for listeners. This immersive audio feature enables listeners to experience sounds coming from all around, including from above, setting it apart from traditional surround audio. With dynamic head tracking, Spatial Audio enhances movies or videos by delivering cinematic sound that surrounds you, providing a three-dimensional audio experience that adjusts based on the movement of your device or compatible headphones.

How does Spatial Audio work?

Essentially, Spatial Audio recreates the sensation of being in a cinema, where the sounds come from all directions – front, behind, from the sides, and even above. To achieve this, Spatial Audio utilises the 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos mixes from a compatible film or video. It applies directional audio filters and tweaks the frequencies of different sounds delivered to each ear, creating a realistic 3D sound environment.

How to create music for Spatial Audio:

If you want a piece this royalties boost, you should start creating music for Spatial Audio. Luckily, creating music for Spatial Audio doesn’t demand any special tools or equipment. If you’ve recorded music before, you can use the same tools to craft music suitable for Spatial Audio, and even convert existing multitrack recordings into a Spatial Audio mix.

The key distinction lies in the mixing process when releasing music in Spatial Audio. The good news is you can compose and record music as you normally would, and then collaborate with a mixing engineer specialised in Spatial Audio for the unique mixing requirements.

The mixing engineer will use the Dolby Atmos Renderer program in Dolby Atmos, working alongside a standard Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Currently, Pro Tools, Nuendo, Logic Pro (v10.7 or later), Pyramix, DaVinci Resolve, and Ableton Live support mixing in Dolby Atmos, with the possibility of more DAWs being added in the future.

Although no new tools are necessary, the immersive medium offers endless creative opportunities, which could be explored fully. The creative process, from writing to arranging and producing music, may undergo significant changes to make the most of this enhancing experience.

It is important to note that the upcoming Apple Spatial Audio royalties adjustment aims not only to reward higher-quality content but also to ensure fair compensation for artists investing time and effort in incorporating Spatial Audio. Additionally, Apple emphasised a zero-tolerance policy for deceptive or manipulative content, extending this stance to Spatial Audio content. The platform outlined a quality control process, including flagging content that does not meet Apple Music’s Spatial Audio specifications and quality standards.

The platform highlighted a significant adoption of Spatial Audio globally, with 80% of songs reaching Apple Music’s Global Daily Top 100 in the past year being available in Spatial. Additionally, over 90% of platform listeners have experienced music in Spatial Audio, and plays for music in this format have more than tripled in the last two years (at no additional cost to Apple Music Subscribers). As this royalties boost inspires more music for Spatial Audio, music enthusiasts will enjoy getting lost in the sounds of more good music, videos and movies.

Haven’t experienced Spatial Audio?

Find out if your Apple device is with Spatial Audio: 

Various Apple (or Apple-owned) devices offer support for Apple’s Spatial Audio, to varying degrees. The following devices are compatible with Spatial Audio:

  • AirPods (3rd generation)
  • AirPods Pro
  • AirPods Max
  • Beats Fit Pro
  • Beats Studio Pro
  • iPhone 7 or later
  • iPad Pro 12.9 inch (3rd generation or later)
  • iPad Pro 11 inch
  • iPad (6th generation or later)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation or later)
  • iPad mini (5th generation or later)
  • Any Mac with Apple silicon
  • HomePod 2
  • HomePod mini
  • Apple TV 4K

While you can experience Spatial Audio through the internal speakers of an iPhone or iPad running iOS 15.1 or above, it’s not the optimal method. A HomePod or Apple Silicon Mac provides a better experience, but the ultimate way to enjoy the full effect is through headphones.

Not an Apple user?

Certain Android devices also support Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos through the Apple Music app, depending on the manufacturer. Be sure to check your phone’s compatibility first.

How do you activate or deactivate Apple Spatial Audio?

To activate Spatial Audio, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap on Bluetooth.
  3. Locate your AirPods (3rd Generation), AirPods Pro/AirPods Pro 2, or AirPods Max.
  4. Tap on the “i” icon next to your headphones.
  5. Scroll down and toggle on Spatial Audio.
  6. You can also tap on “See & Hear How It Works” for a quick demo comparing it to stereo audio.