Success of Streaming Music Pushes RIAA to Change Award Policies

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2016-02-02 Print this article Print
RIAA, streaming music, Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, streaming video, Gold records, platinum records, Google Play

By diving into the streaming music business, Apple took on competitors including Spotify, Pandora, Google Play and others in offering subscribers the ability to listen to almost limitless music collections in real time from anywhere.

Spotify reached the 20 million subscriber mark in June 2015, barely a year after hitting the 10 million subscriber mark in May 2014. The company claims about 75 million active users, including a majority who use its free ad-supported streaming services.

Before it even launched, Apple Music was embroiled in a controversy after the company announced that it would not pay royalties to musicians on music it provided during free 90-day trials it provides to subscribers. The company quickly changed its mind after megastar musician Taylor Swift (pictured) posted an eloquent argument about the unfairness of the company's actions.

By withholding those payments, Apple's proposed action would have been most harmful to new musical artists who are still struggling to find success, wrote Swift. "This is not about me. … This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field … but will not get paid for a quarter of a year's worth of plays on his or her songs."

Swift also reminded Apple that the company doesn't give away its own products on a whim. "We don't ask you for free iPhones," she wrote. "Please don't ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation."

After Swift posted a link to her Tumblr post on Twitter, Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president for Internet software and services, responded to her post and said the company heard her argument and would pay the musicians even during the trial periods.


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