Apple pays artists who perform at their retail stores in goods, not cash

“For a Black History Month installment of the event series Today at Apple, Oakland playwright Ayodele Nzinga and a handful of other artists read spoken-word poetry and discussed Oakland’s musical history. Roughly two dozen friends and family members gathered around, and shoppers passively listened as they played with Apple gadgets,” Nastia Voynovskaya writes for KQED. “And yet, Apple didn’t pay any of the artists who performed or spoke that night—at least not in cash, Nzinga says. Instead, they were given Apple products.”

“Nzinga isn’t the only local artist Apple has booked for their Today at Apple sessions in San Francisco without paying a flat fee,” Voynovskaya writes. “Eleven artists with whom KQED spoke, either on the record or on background, confirmed that Apple didn’t offer monetary compensation for performances, panels, and workshops, instead paying them in their choice of an Apple Watch Series 3, AirPods or an Apple TV.”

“Though some of the interviewees for this story expressed gratitude for the chance to work with a powerful brand, several came away from the experience questioning why Apple — the world’s largest company by market value, with a revenue of $265.6 billion in 2018 alone — was unable to pay them for their labor,” Voynovskaya writes. “When Nzinga was invited to participate in Today at Apple, she thought the platform would help her promote her project, a month-long celebration of Black History Month called BAMBDFest. She agreed to take an Apple Watch Series 3 as payment.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The last sentence we’ve excerpted above — “She agreed to take an Apple Watch Series 3 as payment” — makes the case for Apple, but we do sympathize with the artists, many of whom do incur costs with very little in return. A store-full of people trying to get their cracked iPhone displays fixed are hardly a rapt audience; it’s not really a gig that’s going to lead to bigger and better things. Even without paying outright, Apple could at least do more to promote artists who agree to participate in Today at Apple via iTunes Store, Apple Music, Apple TV, etc.


    1. Yep.
      Although one wonders why Apple wouldn’t also offer a $150/$200 Apple store gift card as an option. Would make for a nice discount on an iPad or iPhone.

  1. I think that money as in income is of more immediate value to local artists than a restricted set of predetermined gifts that may not be used right away.

  2. Apple has not changed remember when Steve gave that trapped miner from I think South America a Nano because he was an Apple fan. Really a Nano for surviving weeks underground. Good job Jobs.

  3. I see no issue here. Apple is brilliant – paying in goods saves them 50% right there as a $100 item costs them less than $50. Plus no 1099, employment taxes etc.

    The entire article is one big heaping steaming helping of ingratitude and contrivance. Apple should have promoted my stuff, Apple should have filmed it for me, Apple should have made people pay attention, Apple should have paid off my mortgage. Get real!

  4. John Dingler, artist gets it. As do a couple others here. Apple should have given them a choice between goods or money. It’s much easier to go and get a meal with actual money, than having to resell an AirPod in order to eat.
    And while we’re at it, Apple Music is built upon the backs of the Artists who are not compensated fairly and who cannot set their own prices for their work. This is why I don’t subscribe to it.
    Doing it for the exposure is not a thing.

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