Apple Music has quietly established a $50 million advance fund to help out independent labels and distributors in these tough times.

The funds will be available through a one-time advanced payment on future royalties for labels and distributors that earn over $10,000 in quarterly revenue from Apple Music, according to reports published by Music Business Worldwide and Rolling Stone.

According to MBW, Apple is telling indies that it’s keen to see the money used to “to help them pay artists and maintain operations”.

To qualify, indie labels and distributors must have a direct distribution deal in place with the streaming platform, which would rule out those indie labels distributed by one of the three majors.

Image of the Apple logo
Apple will reportedly contact labels who qualify directly with the offer from this week. And Australian labels should be in the mix. Maria Amato, general manager at the independents trade association AIR, tells TIO she’s closely watching the development.

“These are difficult times for the music industry globally,” reads a letter from Apple, published by RS. “Apple has a deep, decades-long history with music, and we are proud to be in close partnership with the best labels and artists in the world. We want to help.”

Apple’s relationship with its content providers does go decades deep, but for a considerable chunk of that time, the association has been frosty. This initiative would push any animosity well into the background.

The new fund is the latest example of the wider entertainment industry helping out during the Coronavirus outbreak, which has completely shut-down the live music sector.

Live Nation has teamed up with Crew Aid for a $10 million fund to assist live music crews while the live scene is on hold. And earlier this week, Apple revealed it would donate $10 million to the One World: Together at Home benefit, a COVID-19 fundraiser orchestrated by Global Citizen and the World Health Organization in collaboration with Lady Gaga.