Apple May Be Pushing Artists to Support Dolby Atmos Playback

A Bloomberg report has revealed that Apple may be using rewards to encourage artists and labels to include Dolby Atmos mixes with future releases.


Dolby Atmos playback is now supported on almost all streaming services, allowing users to listen to their favorite tracks in full Dolby Atmos surround sound -- if they have a speaker system for it. This is part of a major push to expand Dolby Atmos' uses to music, and not just movies. Dolby wants to make Atmos technology more accessible, and for consumers and creators in the industry to broaden their ideas of surround sound experiences. A key part of this is making Dolby Atmos-specific mixes available on major music streaming platforms.

While support for Dolby Atmos has become widespread on the streaming platform end, support for Dolby Atmos also requires the artist to release a spatial audio mix for each song. As not all consumer have compatible speaker systems at home, many artists may not see it necessary to make a spatial audio mix. Not to mention, one of the most popular streaming services, Spotify, has yet to support Dolby Atmos -- so it's still not guaranteed that an artist, especially a smaller one, will release spatial audio mixes with every release.

Now it seems that Apple wants to support the expansion of Dolby Atmos playback by encouraging artists to release spatial audio mixes. The report indicates that songs mixed in a spatial audio format will receive extra weighting, meaning higher royalty payments for artists. Whether or not users listen to the spatial audio mix is irrelevant; reportedly, simply having the mix available would allow artists to reap the benefits.

As for why Apple is suddenly pushing spatial audio, we have a few suspicions. Many of Apple's products support Dolby Atmos playback, such as the HomePod and Apple AirPods. The company may be hoping to see an increase in product sales if Atmos playback becomes more popular and accessible.

While we wait for an official comment from Apple, for now all we have is speculation. However, if artists are motivated to produce more spatial audio mixes to reap the benefits on Apple Music, those mixes will likely be made available on all compatible streaming platforms, so listeners will be seeing the effects whether or not they use Apple Music. And, of course, Spotify users will have to continue to wait for the release of the long-anticipated Spotify Hi-Fi.