After her highly publicized Tumblr plea, Apple has heard Taylor Swift and will now pay artists royalties during its Apple Music three-month trial. Apple senior VP Ed Cue Tweeted last night, "We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple." Swift tweeted out this update: "I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us."
Can you hear the sound of 1,000,000 poorly thought-out think pieces about Apple pricing that will be published tomorrow morning?— Wesley Verhoeve (@wesleyverhoeve) June 22, 2015
Swift wrote a Tumblr post about Apple's decision not to pay artists during the initial rollout its new streaming service, and explained why she wouldn't put her current album, 1989, on it.
I find [the lack of royalties] 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.Cue told Billboard, "When I woke up this morning and saw what Taylor had written, it really solidified that we needed to make a change. And so that's why we decided we will now pay artists during the trial period."
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.
Billboard reports, "Cue added that Apple had heard the same 'concern from a lot of artists,' noting that it was 'never our intent' to not compensate artists, rather they were planning to originally negotiate a higher royalty rate, which they will stick with. Asked if Apple is eating the cost of the 90-day trial period, Cue said, 'We're certainly paying for it, yes. We're all in.'"
Of course, there's suspicion that this was a brilliant PR move from Apple and it raises questions about disparities in streaming royalties for stars like Swift and those "new artists" she refers to.
Apple's decision is a contrast to Spotify's approach to Swift, who wrote about her displeasure with the Swedish-based streaming service in the Wall Street Journal (that op-ed was still surprisingly viral despite not being on Tumblr) last year. A "very senior US music executive" told the Guardian, "Daniel Ek [Spotify’s co-founder] goes to war with arguably the biggest pop star in the world and instead of backing down he doubles down. We are watching this like it’s a car crash in slow motion. You never go to war with the artist. Ever. Even when you’re right. Or think you’re right. Who are people going to be more sympathetic to? America’s sweetheart or the funny bald guy with the accent? Let’s see.”
So, Swift 2024? With Welvin Da Great as her running mate?