Quoted: Apple, Taylor Swift and music royalties

“I think this could be the platform that gets it right.”

Taylor Swift, pop music superstar who hit just the right note in an open letter to Apple and got the company to change its mind about paying music royalties during the three-month free trial period for Apple Music, its upcoming offering that’s set to compete with Spotify and other streaming-music providers when it launches at the end of the month. In a letter titled “To Apple, Love Taylor” posted Sunday morning, Swift explained why she is withholding her latest album from the service over the royalties issue, mixing her arguments with flattery for the company “and the truly ingenious minds that have created a legacy based on innovation and pushing the right boundaries.”

Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president for Internet and software, tweeted Sunday night that the company would bear the costs of the free trial.

Last week, indie artists also spoke out against Apple Music’s plan not to pay royalties during the free trial, Mike Murphy wrote. The Beggars Group consortium wrote a letter, addressed to artists and managers, about it: “We struggle to see why rights owners and artists should bear this aspect of Apple’s customer acquisition costs,” Beggars Group said in the letter.

It’s a point Swift echoed in her letter — a point that Apple’s PR nightmares are made of.

“We know how astronomically successful Apple has been and we know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the 3-month trial period,” Swift wrote. Apple is sitting on about $180 billion in cash.

Cue told Billboard that Swift’s letter “really solidified that we needed a change,” and that he called Swift personally to deliver the news after he and Apple CEO Tim Cook made the decision.

Swift is proving to be a thorn in streaming music’s side. She pulled her music catalog from Spotify last year — following similar moves by artists such as Radiohead’s Thom Yorke — criticizing the service’s ad-supported free tier as unfair to artists. (Spotify’s CEO, Daniel Ek, replied then that the company’s free tier attracts paying subscribers.)

Swift pointed out in her letter to Apple that withholding her music from streaming services is a move she can afford to make because of her massive fan base. “This is not about me,” she wrote, saying that she was speaking up for up-and-coming artists, songwriters and producers.

The pop star is receiving plenty of kudos for getting Apple to cave. But if Apple’s turnaround becomes a turning point for the streaming music industry — possibly driving up subscription prices, or doing away with free tiers offered by streaming services — it’ll be interesting to see how music consumers will remember Swift’s role in it.

Naturally, Swift’s “victory” is winning the Internet at the moment. The tweeple have spoken: They’re now urging Swift to get Apple to fix their pet peeves about Apple products.


Photo: Taylor Swift poses with the awards for top Billboard 200 album for “1989,” top female artist, chart achievement, top artist, top Billboard 200 artist, top hot 100 artist, top digital song artist, and top streaming song (video) for “Shake It Off” at the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 17, 2015. (Eric Jamison/Invision/Associated Press)


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  • RegularGuy55

    Too bad Taylor Swift doesn’t feel the same way about other artists forced to give away their work. The agreement she insists professional photographers sign in order to photograph her performance gives them the right to ONE-TIME publication only. After that, all rights to the photographer’s work belong to . . . Taylor Swift.