Taylor Swift Takes on Apple and Wins on Musician Payments

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2015-06-23 Print this article Print
Taylor Swift, Apple Music, streaming music, musicians, artists, royalties

Apple wasn't planning on paying musicians for their work during Apple Music's free 90-day trials, but Taylor Swift got the company to change its mind.

Apple Music now says it will pay musicians for their work during free customer trials of the upcoming Apple Music streaming service after megastar musician Taylor Swift posted an eloquent argument about the unfairness of the company's actions.

Apple originally said it would offer the free 90-day trials to customers on June 30 when Apple Music launches, but wouldn't pay royalties to the musicians whose works are featured during that time.

That didn't go well with lots of musicians and critics who vented their feelings online and in media interviews, but it apparently was Swift's June 21 post on Tumblr that swayed Apple to change its mind.

"I write this to explain why I'll be holding back my album, "1989," from the new streaming service, Apple Music," she wrote in the post. "I feel this deserves an explanation because Apple has been and will continue to be one of my best partners in selling music and creating ways for me to connect with my fans."

Apple's original move to withhold payments to music writers, producers and artists for those three months was "shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company," she wrote.

By withholding those payments, it would be most harmful to new musical artists who are still struggling to find success and who would be hurt by Apple's decision to defer their royalties for 90 days, she wrote. "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."

Swift also posted a link to her Tumblr post on Twitter, with the message, "To Apple, Love Taylor." Later that night, Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president for Internet software and services, responded to her post and to her message on Twitter.

"We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple," Cue replied in a Tweet. He followed it up with another message: "#AppleMusic will pay artist[s] for streaming even during customer's free trial period."

With one additional post on the subject, Cue wrote "Apple will always make sure that artist[s] are paid #iTunes #AppleMusic."

In response, Swift returned to Twitter, saying "I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us."

Cue, who reports to Apple CEO Tim Cook, oversees Apple's iTunes Store, Apple Music, App Store and the iBooks Store, as well as Apple Pay, Siri, Maps, iAd, iCloud services and more.

Apple announced its upcoming Apple Music streaming music service on June 8 at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. It will launch June 30 in 100 countries, including the United States, and will join the iTunes store to give music lovers a new way to find a huge catalog of music in one destination. The service will be compatible with iOS 8.4 on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and as an update to iTunes on Mac computers to start; Windows and Android versions will be available in the fall.

While individual memberships will be priced at $9.99 per month, a family membership for up to six family members is being priced at $14.99 per month.

Shortly after announcing the coming launch of Apple Music, the company dropped its bombshell that it wouldn't be paying any royalties to the musicians whose work it delivered during the trial period. That didn't go over too well within the music industry.


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