In the announcement, Apple Music states that this change is not only to encourage musicians to adopt Spatial Audio, but to ensure fair compensation for “the time and investment they [artists] put into mixing Spatial.”
The financial incentive, starting with January’s month-end payout, is to be calculated based on the proportion of Spatial available to Non-Spatial available plays.
“Pro-rata shares for Spatial Available plays will be calculated using a factor of 1.1 while Non-Spatial Available plays will continue to use a factor of 1.”
In June 2021, Apple Music launched its Spatial Audio and lossless-quality streaming service using Dolby Atmos technology.
Described by Dolby Atmos as “virtual surround sound,” Spatial Audio creates an immersive sound by harnessing the brain’s ability to determine the direction and source of sound.
Apple’s Senior Vice President of Services, Eddy Cue, reportedly told Billboard that the future of music is “Spatial Audio.”
As quoted by The Verge, Cue told Billboard: “It [Spatial Audio] makes you feel like you’re onstage, standing right next to the singer. It makes you feel like you might be to the left of the drummer, to the right of the guitarist.”
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Since the launch of Apple Music’s Spatial Audio feature, Billboard writes that Spatial Audio plays on the platform have “more than tripled in the last two years,” with over 90% of listeners having tried the new feature.
To ensure Spatial Audio tracks maintain high quality, Apple Music announced the addition of a “quality control process” to flag content that fails to comply with “Music’s Spatial Audio specifications and standards of quality.” The streaming service also stated a “zero-tolerance policy against deceptive or manipulative content.”
When using Apple Music, Spatial Audio tracks can be recognized by the presence of the Dolby Atmos or Dolby Audio logo.
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In 2021, Amazon Music announced it would support Spatial Audio for all headphones, as reported by The Verge.
Though Amazon Music has had Spatial Audio capabilities since 2019, it was limited to select headphones. Using Dolby Atmos and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio technology, Amazon Music made the immersive sound accessible to all subscribers.
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Belle Richardson is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter