Apple’s promise to pay royalties during the three-month free trial of its Apple Music streaming service has won over indie licensing agency Merlin. In a letter to members that leaked last night, CEO Charles Caldas explained: “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.” Note the wording: Merlin isn’t striking a deal with Apple on behalf of its members: they’ll be deciding whether to sign the proffered contracts directly. Indie body WIN also endorsed the new deals this morning: “We think Apple Music provides artists with a business model that’s good for the long-term,” said CEO Alison Wenham. With Digital Music News claiming that Apple will be paying around $0.002 per stream during the trial, and the Wall Street Journal sparking comparisons with Spotify’s regular free per-stream rate as well as its trial discounted rate, we’ll see how independent labels react in the days ahead.

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