Apple responds to Taylor Swift, indie label complaints; will pay royalties during Apple Music 3-month free trial

Via Tumblr, Taylor Swift has penned an open letter to Apple regarding Apple Music’s three month trial period. Here it is, verbatim:

To Apple, Love Taylor

I write this to explain why I’ll be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music. I feel this deserves an explanation because Apple has been and will continue to be one of my best partners in selling music and creating ways for me to connect with my fans. I respect the company and the truly ingenious minds that have created a legacy based on innovation and pushing the right boundaries.

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. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.

This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field… but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.

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.

I realize 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 3 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.

But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.


Apple has responded via Twitter:

Swift responded:

MacDailyNews Take: If this “conflict and resolution” was set up by Apple and Big Machine Records’ respective PR departments in order to gin up publicity for Apple Music’s launch (a little “manufactured controversy” never hurt anyone): Kudos! Excellent job to everyone involved!

This does seem a bit Iovinish: We’ll get the biggest name in pop music to “object” and then we’ll “come around” and provide a feel good story that satisfies everyone just before launch. It’ll be great! Cute Taylor Swift takes on Apple all by herself and “wins” and Apple is a great company that listens! It’s a win-win for everyone.

For example, see Bloomberg’s coverage: Taylor Swift wins streaming battle as Apple backs down on royalty payments.

After all, the music industry, from whence Jimmy Iovine sprang, is all about promotion and Apple has enough money to run these services at a billion-dollar loss for several hundred years (no exaggeration) so it’s pretty inconceivable that the actual proposal would be to not compensate the artists during the three-month trial period. The fact is that every major and most minor music label had already signed on the dotted line before this “controversy” erupted.

So, will Apple Music now have Swift’s “1989” tracks among the its catalog of over 30 million songs? Exclusively, of course? Or, is that the cherry on top, the “news” that comes even closer to, or just after, Apple Music’s June 30th launch in order to guarantee another round of free publicity for the service (and Swift)? If so, kudos for that flourish, too!


        1. And stating your fantasy doesn’t make it true.

          I think you are maybe being downvoted because you:
          – First presume Apple tried to get away with something
          – And then folded
          – And that it was due to outside forces

          MDN’s take is another possible interpretation.
          And there are others.

          To anyone — Is there clear EVIDENCE of PRECISELY how this went down?

      1. I caught a lot of flak for questioning whether the original reports were true that Apple was not going to pay the labels or artists. Just because it was reported does not make it true. And Eddie’s response does not state that Apple has changed its position regarding the three-month free trial period of Apple Music.

        I do not know if this whole issue was real, imaging, or ginned up by the Apple PR department. But the artists are being paid (as they should be), and I am glad of that.

        1. Correction: I just saw Apple’s admission that they changed their plan for the free trial period. I was wrong. In addition, I am highly disappointed that Apple tried to stiff the artists. But I am glad that it turned out right in the end.

          I am not a Taylor Swift fan, but she handled this situation in a classy and effective manner. Way to go, TS!

  1. And that this played out, not in the newspapers, TV or radio, but on Twitter, tells me (someone born at the time of the Cuban missile crisis) that we live in a very new and different world.

  2. Apple did the right thing IMO.

    Now I think Tim needs to take a less star struck look at his new music acquisitions and the whole music unit with a more critical eye. They seem to be WAY to loose and “well played” for Apple.

  3. I’m not entirely sure this was engineered by Lovine. The while thing took barely 17 hours, from the initial letter to Cue’s conceding tweet.

    I re-read her open letter. In all fairness, it is really well written. She repeatedly praises Apple and its innovative people. She is consistently most respectful and polite, throughout the letter. This is the diametric opposite from that expletive-laden verbal diarrhea from what’s-his-name the other day.

    And now, eyes are all in Taylor Swift. Is she still going to withhold her album, now that the reason no longer exists?

      1. Of course not; while she is an intelligent young woman, artists of her calibre have professional staff who deal with media, so this was most likely drafted by someone with plenty of experience with media. She may have had the final clearance on it, or not; the point is, it was written in her name and represents her own thoughts.

        1. Exactly. It’s not just about being a certain calibre artist, either. It just makes sense to hire a professional to write something for you.

          Chefs often don’t manage their own restaurant in their name as well. You need people doing what they do best, and approving a letter written professionally is the same as having penned it. Assistants draft letters for bosses all the time.

        2. PreDrag, Here I totally disagree with you. Do some research. The lady has written or cowritten ALL of her lyrics, designs her tour concepts, and much more. She is totally able of writing such a letter and very media conscious. I assure you she wrote the letter.

        3. I have no doubt that she is more than capable of writing a letter like this one. If I understand correctly, she is at this point in the middle of her European tour. I would be truly surprised if she actually took the time to write a long letter like that on her own. The letter is really carefully written. It took a lot of effort to compose. Again, while I’m sure she is quite capable of writing it, I doubt that she had the time to actually do this.

          High-profile artists such as Swift are surrounded by the team of professionals, and they usually delegate many of the tasks they don’t have the time to deal with. This was likely one such task. I really can’t possibly imagine her committing an hour or two to writing an “open letter to Apple” in between concerts, interviews, photo-ops, etc. Precious little free time on tour is usually used to recharge one’s batteries.

        4. And Taylor Swift is an exceptionally gifted person, both musically and with great business acumen. Her father is a very successful financial planner, and Swift is heavily involved in all of her business dealings. While I’m certain she had a PR person edit the letter, I don’t doubt for a minute that she wrote it.

        5. Ms. Swift comes from a line of bank presidents on her father’s side and oilmen on her mother’s.

          Difficult to pull herself up by her bootstraps, eh?

        1. I’m willing to believe it’s parts of both. Motivations are rarely black and white, and she is technically with an indie label, so would know what other artist friends have to deal with

        2. I would suggest you research this very talented and smart young lady. By her own bootstraps, she has risen from unknown artist with an unknown label to one of the most powerful artist in pop and country. To date, she has won over 50 major awards, sang and laughed with British royalty, runs her own company, writes her own lyrics. This is one smart and powerful lady.

        3. Nothing you wrote contradicted what I wrote, so you may have mistaken my “parts of both” as agreeing with rob that a lawyer wrote it. That was specifically targeted at rob’s last sentence.

          I leave room for both possibilities, because it’s nice to think this was a 100% altruistic move on Taylor Swift’s part (and from what I’ve seen in the past she does indeed have a big heart), but you cannot honestly assert this with all certainty, because you are not her, nor are you in her immediate circle.

          And she neglected to point out that Apple would never be paying the writers, producers or artists anyway. Apple pays the labels, almost all of which take most of the money and give pennies for each dollar to the actual writers, producers and artists. Her phrasing ups the emotional connection to the public, but it’s the exact same tactic Hollywood uses in their anti-piracy ads, so this little bit of dishonesty casts just a bit of shadow of doubt on an otherwise praiseworthy argument by Swift.

        4. rob, and I am totally sure you wrote that comment. It shows how little you research your topic before blogging in. Research Swift and her achievements. She is a media expert, CEO of Taylor Swift Entertainment, writes all of her award winning lyrics (yes she has won major awards for her writing) and more. So, just saying.

        5. That was not written by any lawyer or PR professional. It’s too personal and colloquial. She wrote it, and probably had a PR person/media relations person edit it, but the letter came from Taylor Swift.

      2. Arnold, I totally disagree with you. She is an active CEO of Taylor Swift Entertainment, designs her own tour concepts and much more. Me thinks the lady is very smart indeed and totally capable of writing that letter.

    1. PreDrag,
      I agree with you vs the letter. Taylor Swift has shown herself to be a very smart and savvy young lady. Active CEO of TS Entertainment, I believe she is totally able to write that letter.

  4. I don’t think it was a manufactured controversy. It shows how poorly Apple is managed by Tim Cook and company. If Steve Jobs was alive today he would be ashamed of Apple Watch readiness, its botched launch, and now this music fiasco. Apple should have thought about this before. Once they made a decision they must stick to it. To change a policy because Taylor Swift is unhappy shows management weakness.

    1. I do not agree that Apple is poorly managed under Tim, Apple had its share of fumbles under Steve as well.

      That said I really think Tim and Eddy look way too star struck in the presence of music industry celebs, WWDC being a prime example. The music industry celebs on Apple staff appear to need some intense time at Apple University to learn how to make an effective public presentation without embarrassing themselves, their company, and Apple shareholders. Their presentation at WWDC, together with the clumsy execution of Apple Music seems to indicate that some refresher courses in how things work at Apple would be in order.

    2. I wouldn’t say it’s about poor management. Apple negotiated these terms with the major labels. It just so happens that one of the best selling pop stars is on an indie label, who didn’t have any say in the negotiations.

    3. BS. Jobs was the one who introduced the iPhone and insisted that it would have no apps, just web apps. It took 6-9 months, but he eventually caved in (thankfully!) and the App Store was created. Stop looking at Jobs like he was some infallible god; he made mistakes too (he kept insisting the Cube was great, and that the cracks in its casing weren’t significant, remember?”.

      Cook did the right thing very quickly. I’ll bet Apple had input from Iovine and the Beats team that artists would go along with this 3 months free plan to attract new paid subscribers. But they were wrong, and now Apple is stepping up and paying artists (as Apple should) for playing their music.

    4. Ohh, snooooooore. DISASTER NEWS FLASH!!! APPLE DON’T DO EVERYTHING PERFECTLY!!!! Still the most valuable company on the planet. Still undergoing dramatic growth under Tim Cook.

      By the way, how large a company do you run, that you are so wise in the ways of running a trans-national corporation?

  5. While I don’t think that this was set up as an elaborate publicity stunt, I do find myself wondering why Eddy Cue was able to get this sorted at 04:30 on a Sunday morning and Taylor Swift was able to thank him just an hour later?

    On the other hand, if this was a carefully planned set-up, then congratulations to whoever came up with a ploy like that.

        1. Sure it is. Apple just got massive publicity about its new music service, played nice with one of the biggest recording artists in the world, made all other artists happy, and defused any controversy to come out as the good guy in the end, all over a long weekend.

    1. Alan, a, Tim Cook gets up super early, so I would not be surprised if most of his team did not do so also.
      b, Taylor Swift is in Europe on tour. Time zone change my unthinking friend. Different time zone.

    2. You honestly think that Apple doesn’t have the ability to contact Taylor Swift, get things worked out, and then they make their announcement? Come on, man.

    1. Those are outlets that have fallen for the PR stunt hook, line, and sinker. Are they giving you unique analysis like MacDailyNews or are they reporting exactly as Apple’s and Swift’s PR people want them to?

      MDN give you a real headline, not click bait, here because they aren’t falling for it and are offering readers a unique viewpoint. If you want empty click-bait, go ahead and swallow it, it’s everywhere. I much prefer MDN’s approach here.

    2. If, after reading that Take, you think “MDN is slipping,” you’re nuts.

      Go read every other “click-worthy” article that simply regurgitate the timeline, but offer no insight or even hint at the possibility that it was planned from the outset. I don’t think you get it. We don’t want click-bait headlines and empty articles!!!

      1. No, you’re right. I suppose I should have included the sarcasm tag in my post.

        MDN’s commentaries do add value. They are original, passionate, different, funny and insightful, never copycat.

        That being said, MDN generates readership with click bait headlines just like everyone else. Sometimes MDN merely imports provocative headlines, like Jonny Evans’ “Did Google’s Eric Schmidt just call Apple’s Tim Cook a liar?”; sometimes MDN creatively improves on them. It’s one of those things that everybody does, and everybody loves to make fun of. (But I’ll remember to include the /s next time, anyway.)

  6. Either way, confidence game or sheer stupid, this ‘service’ has gone nowhere but downhill in my estimation. My plan, stream constantly for the 90 day trial, make Apple feed a few starving artists, and then unsubscribe. I recommend this to countless others.

  7. Maybe not completely set up. Possibly: the record companies were fine with a three month trial and didn’t even think it was much of an issue. Then independents started to scream.

    Apple knew they had a PR problem, but caving to the independents just seemed wishy washy. So they bring in Taylor (who already has some issues with streaming) and say, why don’t you go on the record against it, and then we’ll look like we’re caving to you. Plus, it will be great PR for your new album. And she said okay.

  8. “These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer ” As well as the complaints of parents of artists, writers and producers still struggling to catch a break.

    Winston Churchill said “The Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing. After they have exhausted all other possibilities.” Apple is truly an American company.

    I’m kidding of course. The initial reports of the 90 day free work scheme seemed wrong. I suspect Apple just never looked at the world through that set of glasses. When you’re the biggest elephant in the room it is easy to not see everything in your shadow. Good to see them on the high ground. The view is much better from there.

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