Taylor Swift takes on Apple Music’s decision to not pay artists — and wins

22 Jun 2015

In the swiftest and most effective act of lobbying of the digital age, artist Taylor Swift has effectively forced Apple to pay musicians per stream during the three-month trial period for Apple Music.

“It is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing,” Swift said in a Tumblr post at the weekend that hit out at Apple’s strange decision to not pay artists for songs streamed during the three-month period when it is offering the new streaming platform for free.

Swift threatened to hold back her new album 1989 from the Apple iTunes and Apple Music libraries in protest at the injustice she felt was being perpetrated against her and fellow artists.

She said that a quarter of a year is a long time to hold back royalties from artists and asked Apple to change its policy.

Last night Apple appeared to back down and its Internet Services boss Eddy Cue tweeted: “#AppleMusic will pay artists for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period.”

He followed it up with: “We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.”

Be the platform that gets it right, Swift tells Apple


Eddy Cue responds to Taylor Swift’s protests

Well, that was awkward. Why Apple made this policy decision in the first place without expecting a reaction from musicians is bizarre. Perhaps Apple just wasn’t expecting an artist with the ideals, courage and influence of Taylor Swift to take a stand so quickly and resolutely.

In a measured Tumblr post, Swift made it clear how much musicians love and respect Apple’s technologies. They just refuse to be taken for granted.

“These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call,” Swift said.

“I realise that Apple is working towards a goal of paid streaming. I think that is beautiful progress. 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 three-month trial period… even if it is free for the fans trying it out.

“Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done. I hope that soon I can join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create this music. I think this could be the platform that gets it right.”

Taylor Swift image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years