Apple has changed its artist payment policy for Apple Music following a public outcry from Taylor Swift.
There had already been some complaints from indie labels regarding Apple’s offer of a three month free trial for its forthcoming Apple Music streaming service. The issue was that while Apple wouldn’t be getting any money during this free period, neither would the artists whose music was being streamed.
While indie label complaints about this matter appeared to fall on deaf ears, an open letter from pop star Taylor Swift appears to have prompted a change of heart.
On Sunday night (US time) Swift issued a post on Tumblr explaining why she was withholding her top-selling album 1989 from Apple Music. Regarding Apple’s non-payment of artists during the free trial period, she said: “I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.”
Later that very evening, on Sunday night, Apple Music chief Eddie Cue let it be known that Apple had listened to Swift. “#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period,” Cue tweeted.
He then issued a follow-up tweet explaining Apple’s change of heart: “We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.”
Somehow, we suspect that Swift’s weighing in on the matter had a little more to do with Apple’s remarkable about-turn.
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Swift famously kicked up a massive stink when she got into a public spat with Spotify late last year. She pulled the bulk of her music from the service in protest against its free tier and low payments to artists (particularly small and upcoming ones).
Apple evidently didn’t want Swift’s politely worded rebellion to form the heart of the press coverage of Apple Music leading up to its release. Apple has to hit the ground running with its ambitious streaming service if it’s to overhaul Spotify’s considerable head-start.