Apple Music Backtracks on Not Paying its Artists Following Taylor Swift’s Rant

Taylor Swift spoke out for independent musicians, and Apple listened.

Paul Tamburroby Paul Tamburro

Apple has backtracked on its previous statement that it will not pay musicians during its three-month free trial of Apple Music, after Taylor Swift penned an embittered blog post about the mega-rich company’s frugal approach to its streaming service.

In a blog post on Tumblr, Swift claimed she would be withholding her album 1989 from the service due to Apple’s treatment of its featured artists during the trial period. “This is not about me,” she wrote. 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… but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.” 

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While these complaints had been echoed by smaller names in the music industry since Apple, a company worth over $700 billion, decided that it couldn’t afford to foot the bill for Apple Music’s artists during its free trial period, with Swift having 59.2 million Twitter followers it seems that this was some bad press they weren’t ready to face. 

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Step in Apple’s senior VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, who out a series of tweets to Taylor Swift and his followers addressing the issue. Cue wrote: “Apple will always make sure that artist are paid #iTunes #AppleMusic.”

He added: “We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple,” before concluding: “#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period.”

Swift seemed pleased with the result, tweeting: “I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us.”

In order to justify not paying artists during the three-month free trial period, Apple stated that it would instead pay them a slightly higher percentage in terms of royalties than the likes of Spotify, with the company estimating that it would dish out between 71.5% – 73% compared to the 70% given by its competitors. However, rights holders would only earn that extra cut if the users playing their tracks had been subscribed to the service for more than three years. Basically, if the service tanked, they wouldn’t see any extra compensation for their efforts.

It’s a pretty major victory for musicians, then, and while it may hurt Apple’s pockets in the short-term, it will at least ensure that huge money makers such as Taylor Swift, who after her departure from Spotify was one of the Apple service’s biggest coups, won’t take their music and run.

Photo: Getty Images