Push could encourage more music labels to adopt the format Image Credit: Apple/Twitter

Apple Inc. is offering incentives to artists and record labels to produce music using a spatial-audio technology that surrounds listeners in sound.

Starting next year, the company plans to give added weighting to streams of songs that are mixed in Dolby Atmos technology, according to people with knowledge of matter. That could mean higher royalty payments for artists who are first to embrace the technology made by Dolby Laboratories Inc., said the people, who asked not to be identified because the change hasn't been announced.

Listeners wouldn't necessarily have to play the Atmos version of a song for artists to benefit. It only matters that the song is offered in that format. The new policy will encourage artists and labels to record and mix music with Atmos "- including older tracks.

Mixing music in Atmos is broadly affordable, according to the people, making it worthwhile for established artists and labels to participate in the hope of seeing a boost in royalties.

Apple's audio hardware, including AirPods and the HomePod, a small speaker, support Atmos playback. With more tracks available in spatial audio, consumers might want to purchase additional Apple hardware.

Apple first introduced spatial audio to Apple Music in 2021. Supported by technology from Dolby Atmos, the format attempts to more closely mimic the way music sounds in-person where it can come from various points around the listener's head.

Amazon Inc.'s Music app also offers Dolby Atmos-supported spatial audio to its users as part of their subscriptions at no extra cost. Spotify Technology SA doesn't support the format.