This summer, Apple Music passed Spotify in U.S. subscribers, but it appears the former is taking a page out of the latter’s playbook with the launch of a new distribution initiative.
Apple Music has named three distributors as part of their “Apple Preferred Distribution Program”: CD Baby, The Orchard, and Kontor New Media. The move is similar to Spotify’s October announcement of its own list of preferred partners, which included both CD Baby and The Orchard, along with Emu-Bands, FUGA, and Distrokid.
Per Hypebot, the criteria for Preferred Plus on Apple is a combination of delivering in quantity (40,000) songs per month and having a “‘low music rejection rate.”
CD Baby’s post about the news on their DIY Musician vertical boasts about early access to Apple Music products and the ability to access analytics for both the streaming service and iTunes. The Orchard is owned by Sony Music Entertainment, while CD Baby’s parent company AVL Digital Group also owns AudioMicro. Kontor was founded in 2003 and came from Kontor Records, the Hamburg-based EDM label that houses Armin van Buuren, Scooter, and Cascada, among other acts.
Based on a graphic, it also appears that the three Preferred Distribution partners will be the only distributors who can provide concert film footage.
In September, Spotify made news for beginning to roll out a direct upload program geared at independent artists. It’s still in the expansion phase, but a move like this would theoretically cut into the widespread use of distributors like CD Baby or The Orchard, which are primarily utilized by independent artists. Spotify is working with Distrokid to develop its direct upload feature, and also acquired a minority stake in the company.
Apple Music has made no announcements about a direct-upload option as of publication.