Apple Music will use Shazam’s tech to ensure proper royalties for DJ mixes


DJ mixes are mostly absent from “premium” streaming services. That’s mostly due to the fact that properly sorting out royalties for all the samples is a nightmare. You can find them on platforms like SoundCloud (unless they get taken down), but these songs can have literally hundreds of rights holders between the DJ, original artist, labels and even a festival or venue. To remedy the problem, and to massively expand the amount of DJ-mixed content on the platform, Apple worked with both major and independent labels on a system that identifies and directly pays rights holders on a mix. What’s more, the company leveraged Shazam technology to do it for Apple Music. 

Apple explains that its new tool will let the streaming service ID and compensate individual creators in a DJ mix, even artists who recorded any sampled tunes. It’s also the first major streaming service to do so. In collaboration with DJs themselves alongside festivals, clubs, promoters, curators and independent labels, the company says it’s working with all parties involved to ensure fair compensation. Apple says this will give DJ mixes a longer shelf life when it comes to revenue since individual tracks, collections, compilations and even full festival sets will be available to stream like studio albums on Apple Music. 

There are thousands of DJ mixes on Apple Music already, and the service says it’s adding more all the time. The company has already commissioned mixes for Black Music Month and Pride in addition to housing content from Tomorrowland’s 2020 and 2021 digital festivals. Thanks to this new system, there’s about to be a lot more to choose from. 

Starting this Friday, !K7’s DJ-Kicks archive will be available for streaming. The label explains that 14 of those editions haven’t been “in the market” for more than 15 years. Previously unavailable for streaming, Tomorrowland performances from Alesso, Charlotte de Witte, David Guetta, Diplo, Major Lazer, Martin Garrix, The Chainsmokers, Tiësto and more will be easily accessible. Mixmag is opening up its vault as well, and livestream platform Cercle will have a dedicated hub on Apple Music where listeners can stream archived mixes and live performances. And yes, much of this will be available for lossless streaming and you’ll be able to listen offline too. 

This isn’t the first time Apple has dabbled in managing royalties for DJ mixes. In 2016, the company began working with Dubset to bring previously unlicensed content to Apple Music. Dubset used a Gracenote database of clips to identify and assign rights. The system even allowed original artists to prohibit their songs from being used in mixes and to limit how much of a track could be repurposed. Dubset was purchased by Pex in 2020, where the system is used to scan social media audio and video content for unlicensed material. Apple’s new Shazam-based setup, on the other hand, compares all parts of a mix to Apple Music’s library of 75 million songs.

As you can imagine, all of the new content will be easy to find. Apple says DJs will have artist pages, if they don’t already for any original music. And while the focus is on DJ mixes for now, the company says this system can be applied widely, for things like assigning royalties for hip-hop remixes and more. 

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