UPDATE: Apple responds, agrees to pay artists through trial. See below.
Say what you want about Taylor Swift, her music, her shift away from country, or whether she was ever country in the first place—as the music industry and technology companies continue to attempt to navigate the choppy waters of digital streaming and look for a way to serve consumers affordably while still compensating songwriters, producers, performers, and labels fairly, Taylor Swift has taken the leadership her perch as the most popular music artist in all the world has bestowed, and continues to stand up for the rights of artists much smaller than herself.
Swift was the first to pull her music from Spotify in response to their paltry payouts and freemium model. Now she is taking the new Apple music to task for offering a 3 moth free trial at the expense of the artists and songwriters who created the music. And before you say this is all a publicity stunt, appreciate many independent labels are taking the same stance Swift is, they just don’t have the same economic sway or audience as as Taylor.
On Sunday morning (6-21), Taylor Swift published an open letter to Apple explaining her stance.
To Apple, Love Taylor
I write this to explain why I’ll be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music. 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. I respect the company and the truly ingenious minds that have created a legacy based on innovation and pushing the right boundaries.
I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.
This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. 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.
These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.
I realize that Apple is working towards a goal of paid streaming. I think that is beautiful progress. We know how astronomically successful Apple has been and we know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the 3 month trial period”¦ even if it is free for the fans trying it out.
Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done. I hope that soon I can join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create this music. I think this could be the platform that gets it right.
But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.
After Taylor Swift’s open letter, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddie Cue tweeted out numerous messages late Sunday evening (6-21), saying that Apple would pay artists during the three month trial period. Whether or not they were intending to do so from the beginning, or bowed to the pressure from Taylor Swift remains in question.
“Apple will always make sure that artists are paid,” said Eddie Cue. “Apple Music will pay for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period. We hear you Taylor Swift and indie artists. Love, Apple.”
Taylor Swift retweeted the news.
This now puts the ball back in Taylor Swift’s court. Will she put her most recent album 1989 on the Apple streaming service, or will she continue to hold out on the principle that streaming should never be free, even if a company is paying the artists, songwriters, and labels?
Eddy Cue (@cue) June 22, 2015
We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple
Eddy Cue (@cue) June 22, 2015