June 22, 2015
Thanks, Taylor Swift! Apple to pay royalties during free trial
In an apparent rare victory for the little guy, Apple has responded to criticism from pop star Taylor Swift and agreed to pay royalties to artists during the free trial rollout period of its Apple Music streaming service.Apple had signed deals with the major record labels to not pay royalties during a three-month trial period it would be offering to subscribers as a part of Apple Music’s June 30 rollout date. Instead, Apple would pay a bit more in royalties after the trial.
In an open letter posted to Tumblr, Swift said she would be withholding her hit album 1989 from Apple Music to protest the tech giant not paying royalties. Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, responded to the letter in a series of tweets, saying “We hear you [Taylor Swift],” and announcing that Apple will “pay for streaming” during the free trial.
While Swift doesn’t have to rely on royalties from Apple Music to put food on the table, many smaller independent and regional acts must rely on every possible revenue stream in an effort to stay afloat in the cutthroat music world. The decision to pay royalties during the free trial may not amount to much money for these artists, but the shift does signify that a major player in the music streaming game is responding to the artistic community.
In her open letter, Swift said Apple’s decision to “[not pay] writers, producers, or artists for those three months is shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.”
After the series of tweets from Apple’s Cue, Swift responded with a Twitter post of her own, writing: “I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us.”
Observers pointed out that the switch by Apple does boost the public image of the company and serves to reinforce its “artist-friendly” brand. The move also comes after Swift pulled her entire catalog from the streaming service Spotify after claiming the company does not sufficiently compensate artists.