Taylor Swift isn’t the only one who was grumbling about Apple’s decision to not pay royalties to artists during the free three-month trial subscription period it will offer consumers when Apple Music launches this week. However, her high-profile criticism, in the form of an open letter on Tumblr, did lead to Apple’s immediate change of policy. Swift also pulled her music from Spotify last year over royalties issues. Whether you like her music or not, you must admit that Swift is one of the most powerful people in the music business right now, and in this case she is using her power for good, to help smaller artists get a fair shake.
It took Taylor Swift less than 24 hours to make technology giant Apple Inc. back down.
In the wake of a stinging rebuke from the pop singer, Apple made a rare public about-face on an earlier decision not to pay royalties for songs played on its new streaming-music service during a three-month free trial. Swift penned an open letter on Tumblr, calling the policy “shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.”
“When I woke up this morning and saw what Taylor had written, it really solidified that we needed a change,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president for Internet and software, said in an interview with Billboard Sunday. “And so that’s why we decide we will now pay artists during the trial period.”
Apple Music, which is set to debut with 30 million songs on June 30, is Apple’s big gamble to regain its place as a leader from upstarts like four-year-old Spotify. The plan to withhold royalties during the free trial period had been criticized by the music industry in the past weeks. Yet Apple, the maker, couldn’t afford to be publicly shamed by one of the most popular pop stars just days before the introduction of the service.
In her letter, titled “To Apple, Love Taylor,” Swift explained why she planned to withhold her top-charted album “1989” from the service. The seven-time Grammy Award winner, who pulled from Spotify last year, said it wasn’t about her, but about “the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success.”
“We don’t ask you for free iPhones,” Swift wrote. “Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”
The reversal isn’t a total loss for Apple, which has more than $190 billion in cash and can easily afford higher royalty payments. It also is generating untold publicity for the new service. Even so, Swift is emerging as the industry’s most high-profile and effective critic of streaming music programs seen as underpaying artists.
To read the complete Bloomberg story, click here.
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• Apple Officially Announces New Music Streaming Service at HomeTheaterReview.com.