Taylor Swift letter sparks Apple U-turn on streaming service payments
Cupertino to pay artist royalties during users' three-month free trial period
A Tumblr post written by international pop star Taylor Swift has apparently convinced Apple to U-turn on one of the most controversial aspects of its newly announced streaming service.
The service, dubbed Apple Music, is set to offer a three-month free trial to users when it launches. However, following the announcement of the service, it came to light that Apple would not be paying the artists in the streaming library for those first three months. This was met with heavy criticism from the music industry.
And over the weekend, Swift threw her weight behind the critics' campaign with a blog post belittling Cupertino over the decision to not pay artists for their work. She added that she would not be allowing her current album, 1989, to appear on the service.
"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," she wrote.
"I find it shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.
"We don't ask you for free iPhones. Please don't ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation," Swift concluded the open letter with.
Following the post being widely shared, Apple has apparently U-turned on its decision to not pay artists for the first three months of Apple Music. Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, tweeted this morning that the vendor will now pay artists for streaming during a customer's free trial period.
"#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer's free trial period," he wrote on the microblogging site.
"We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple," he added in a subsequent tweet.
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Cue later confirmed to BuzzFeed News that he had spoken to Swift by phone, and that Apple will pay artists on a per-stream basis, though he did not say what the rate of pay would be. After the three-month trial period, though, Apple has said that it would pay around 73% of Apple Music subscription revenue to artists globally, with the caveat that there would be fluctuations across different regions.
Swift, meanwhile, has still not confirmed whether or not she would allow her 1989 album to appear on the service. However, she did tweet that she was satisfied with Apple's response.
"I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us," she wrote.
Though many were encouraged by the turn of events, and saw it as a triumph for independent artists struggling to get paid, others were more sceptical of Apple's reversal. Some insinuated that the entire episode had been pre-planned as a publicity stunt aimed at alerting users to the three-month free trial, as well as the fact that Apple would pay artists for that period.
"If you think 1) Apple didn't change course on free trial payments, or 2) it's a vast PR conspiracy, please power down Twitter for the night," tweeted Apple analyst Rene Ritchie.
Others on the social media platform voiced their disbelief at the idea Apple would U-turn so quickly on a policy based on a simple blog post from one artist.
That said, others came to the defence of both Apple and Swift, proclaiming that she and Cue had managed to achieve in a few tweets what would normally take dozens of corporate lawyers six months.