In response to Taylor Swift’s recent open letter criticizing Apple Music’s payment policy for artists, the company has rather swiftly decided to modify its policy in favor of musicians. Originally, Apple’s much-anticipated new streaming service, set to launch on June 30, was offering a three-month free trail period to subscribers, with no recompense for artists. But when Swift announced that she was refusing to allow Apple Music to stream her album 1989, the company was forced to bend to the 25 year-old pop sensation’s public appeal.
In her open letter, Swift denounced the payment plan as “unfair”. She argued that Apple had the money to cover the cost for artists.
“I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company,” Swift said. She described Apple as one of her “best partners in selling music”, and went on to outline the inner workings of how artists really get paid in the music industry.
“Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing,” she stated. “We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”
Apple Music, which intends to compete with such established streaming services as Spotify and Pandora, will most likely set a major precedent in how such issues are negotiated in the future. In the United States, a monthly subscription to Apple Music will cost $9.99 for individuals, and $14.99 for families, which is comparable to a subscription to Spotify.
Executive Eddy Cue responded sympathetically to Swift’s public complaint. He tweeted: “We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.” To which Taylor Swift tweeted back: “I am elated and relieved.”
It is still unclear whether Swift will agree to make her new album available to the streaming platform, but she has received much support from industry insiders and fans for taking the stand that she did. Several indie artists have been expressing concern about the issue for a while, and now, with a heavy-weight pop star like Taylor Swift chipping her two cents in, Apple has been forced to sway towards sympathy.
“We had originally negotiated these deals based on paying musicians a higher royalty rate on an ongoing basis to compensate for this brief time”, Apple executive Eddy Cue explained. They will now pay artists during the trial period and also keep the royalty rate at the higher rate.
This is not the first time Swift has vocalized concerns about music streaming services. In November 2014 she pulled her entire repertoire down from Spotify, complaining that the service had contributed to a drastic shrinkage in her album sales.
“I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music,” Swift said. Her most recent album release, entitled 1989, has sold more than 4.9 million copies in the United States.