Taylor Swift Gets Apple Music to Pay Musicians


In one letter capable of reaching and influencing millions of music fans, Taylor Swift has gotten Apple Music to change its approach on artist compensation.

Initially, Apple Music’s plan was to offer customers a free, three-month trial to test out the service. During this time, musicians, composers, producers, et al, would not be paid. This caused a big uproar from various figures in the music business, including multiple independent record labels.

After Swift published the letter on Sunday (read it in full below) to publicly question Apple’s approach with Apple Music, the tech giant caved and decided to shake some money out of its pockets. This was made known through a series of tweets issued on Sunday evening by Eddy Cue, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services.

Of course, it’s still too soon to know what this compensation will look like, but it appears as if Swift has single-handedly influenced one of the world’s biggest companies to shift its strategy. That said, Swift’s record label, Big Machine, recently stated that the hit-maker’s monster 1989 album would not be available on Apple Music. Perhaps it can be speculated then that Apple’s about-face here is being done to secure better business opportunities with Swift?

While Swift should and needs to be applauded for taking on a cause she could’ve afforded not to, it is still sickening to think how comfortable Apple was about holding back royalties from those who can’t afford to have royalties held back. It took the top pop star in the top 1% to get Apple to pay the rest of the 99%. Many artists will likely forgive once payments come in, but they likely won’t ever forget.

As promised, here is Swift’s full letter:

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.

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