While potential customers may be enticed by Apple’s play of launching its streaming music service with three free months for everyone, indie musicians were not especially psyched to hear that Apple wouldn’t be paying artists during that time. But Apple didn’t acknowledge their complaints until Taylor Swift got involved.
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.
Although the policy certainly affects multimillionaire Taylor Swift’s bottom line, she emphasized that she’s not the one getting truly screwed here:
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.
Taylor also put Apple on notice that, as a result of their artist-unfriendly contract terms, her latest album, 1989, would not be available on Apple Music at launch.
And less than 24 hours later, Apple’s Eddy Cue announced the company had relented and suddenly cared about artists. Apple will now be paying artists for plays of their songs even during the free trial period.
We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple
— Eddy Cue (@cue) junio 22, 2015
Apple, owner of $178 billion in cash on hand, made the right call for a handful of reasons:
1) They could easily afford it.
2) It’s just good PR—the cost of having an army of Swifties ready to boycott your streaming service is probably higher than the cost of paying artists for three months.
3) 1989 isn’t available from any of Apple Music’s biggest streaming music competitor, Spotify. It’s on something called Tidal(???), which Taylor was reportedly considering leaving for Apple Music. That gives Taylor some powerful leverage: If Apple has to take a loss during the trial period to realize the long-term gains from 1989 and the customers it brings with it, that’s what Apple will do.
Cue asinine discussions about whether grumbly old Steve Jobs would have denied Taylor’s request out of stubborn principle.