Taylor Swift’s business plan outwits Apple executives or something

“What does it say about Apple and its executives that Taylor Swift, in a social media post, was able to make it reverse its decision not to pay artists for the first three months on its newest venture, Apple Music?” Jonathon M. Trugman wonders for The NY Post. “Imagine being the top pop star on the planet, worth more than $200 million and just 25 years old, and having more business acumen than the world’s largest company by market cap.”

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, imagine – because fantasy is the only way to arrive at that conclusion.

“One of the more disconcerting questions about Apple’s greedy misstep is: Why would it risk alienating its artists and content providers over 90 days of royalties? That’s pocket change for Apple,” Trugman writes. “It’s almost as if there weren’t an adult in the room when Cue’s team first made its decision.”

MacDailyNews Take: Or it was a planned PR stunt all along.

“At the risk of a p.r. nightmare and lost content, their reward would be saving a few million dollars on royalties for the quarter,” Trugman writes. “Swift just gave Apple’s management the MBA they sorely lacked.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: More free publicity for Apple Music. As planned.

As we last week:

Apple can now claim they did not plan any of this. They had deals in place to stream without paying for the trial period. So, there was no collusion here. They simply did the right thing, thanks to Taylor Swift.

If you think the dominant leader in paid music download sales made a mistake that had to be rectified thanks to Taylor Swift a week before launching a high profile music subscription service, we have an absolutely beautiful bridge for sale in Brooklyn, cheap!

Legality is one thing, PR is another.

What’re Spotify et al. going to do, whine that it’s unfair that Apple is paying the artists* and complain that they’ll have to pay them now, too? The other streaming music services will lose that argument with the artists and with the paying public. Spotify and the rest are between a rock and a hard place.

*in effect, Apple is actually paying the labels who then pay out some percentage of that to the artists.

Apple and ‘boneheaded’ decisions – June 23, 2015
Apple backpedals on Conderate flag censorship – June 27, 2015
Apple purges Confederate flag, but Nazi swastika remains in App Store – June 26, 2015
Tim Cook has let his personal politics affect Apple; Board may have to rein him in – June 25, 2015
Apple removes all American Civil War games from the App Store because of the Confederate flag? – June 25, 2015


    1. That’s the key point. If this was a pre-planned publicity stunt, as MDN asserts, then Taylor Swift would have to have been in on it from the outset. And I seriously doubt that. Genuine conspiracies tend to come to light eventually. Swift’s reputations would take a bit hit if that happened, and Apple would receive a lot more stick than it has over a genuine mistake and backdown.

      I think it was a genuine mistake on Apple’s part, but one that had several plusses. It showed they are capable of listening and changing their stance on an issue (two things they’ve been accused of not doing in the past). It lessened the chance of being accused of anti-competitive practice for the three month period (“the artists forced us to do it”). It garnered publicity they would otherwise not have had if they had announced they would pay artists from the outset. And it ensured that the latest album from one of the leading popular entertainers is part of their service.

  1. To be honest, this immediately followed by the FlagFiascoGateSomething, does leave room for questions.

    The first looks like a brilliant execution of masterful PR ninja’s, the second looks like someone trying to escape an overflowing toilet with their pants still around their ankles, barely one step ahead of their own floating poo.

    Too bad Tim, or some unnamed middle manager, reacted so hastily/emotionally, instead of approaching this like they did SwiftGate1989, with well thought out actions, pre-planned steps that were announced with strategy and planning.

    A simple;

    “Hey we are reviewing a number of Apps in light of the SC murders, and their (tenuous) connection to the Battle Flag of Virginia. Some Apps may be pulled till they can be rewrote to meet our high standards of inoffensiveness.”

    would have went a long way.

    1. I tend to agree with you.

      The only issue I have with all of it is that for the most part I just don’t care.

      I got a couple Swift albums ripped, she is a brilliant woman, a talented songwriter/singer/performer, and an great example of how, if you are truly talented, you can kick the world of the music company monopolies in nads and travel your own path.

      Much like Apple. I own an iPhone, and have since 2007, I even “give” my sister my old iPhone for free every year just so that I have an excuse to upgrade!

      But streaming bores me. Also I don’t want to waste my data on it. What with all that good DinoErotica out there…


      1. Streaming bores you… you don’t want to waste your data on it…

        You’re missing two key aspects of Apple’s plans… to redefine access to music by making streaming the default method, and demand for data will become so great that the costs of bandwidth will continue to decline… which means it will become a non-issue for many people.

    2. Agree with you – ridiculous to assume conspiracy, but it’s probably the only scenario MDN will allow itself to consider, considering how far they bend over with regards to anything Apple does.

      Considering the consistent history of missteps from Apple over the past 3-4 years, the Swift situation is far more inline with being another not-well-thought out decision (ie not thinking the details through), instead of some sort of master plan.

  2. Excessive analysis which has outlasted a couple of reporting cycles, but it does distract attention away from Apple’s thought-control Confederate flag mess.

    Tim Cook should apologize for removing Civil War games. Just say they were swept away by the fervor, and they forgot freedom of expression means something at a company where racist and misogynist music lyrics are played around the world through Apple products.

    And maybe Tim Cook “reveal” they named their programming language after Taylor Swift.

  3. Apple has sucked in a lot of people over the last few years – so you should expect that many of them are not up to the standard of Apple staff in the past.

    One incident illustrates this very well: the failure of the sapphire plant. The Apple manager in charge of this relationship foisted an impossible contract on a company that was way out of its depth. “Put on your big trousers” he told them.

    Arrogance and ineptitude often go hand in hand.

    In this case it seems Apple was focused on the big labels and just forgot to think about the indies.

    Taylor Swift just gave them the necessary wake up call.

    There was no conspiracy, just initial thoughtlessness followed by commonsense.

  4. Sorry, the likelihood that this was anything other than a complete cock up is miniscule.
    Apple sunk a whole heap of change into buying the services of Dr Dire and his mate Bovine because they were ‘music industry ‘savvy’ and had a great pitch ( that Jobs never bought) .
    Attempting to give away someone else’s copyright material for 3 months was bound to be seen either as predatory because of their corporate power i.e. – unfair competition , or as blackmailing smaller labels with the threat of being dumped from iTunes ( real or imaginary – it makes no difference)
    In the end they got called out by someone with the clout to do so and with more relevance to their target youth download market ( read spotify ) than would have been the case if someone like the Beatles label withheld permissions.

  5. Has there been a cogent argument by anyone on either side of the whole “Confederate Flag” thing. I haven’t heard anything that wasn’t “Our side is right and if you disagree with us you’re immoral and stupid.”

    Of course, I haven’t heard much discussion from anyone about how to actually solve any large scale issues that wasn’t essentially that, so there’s no real change.

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