Music

Thanks To Taylor Swift’s Boycott, Apple Music Just Reversed Their Stance On Paying Artists

"I am elated and relieved. They listened to us."

Earlier this month, at their annual Worldwide Developers Conference in California, Apple announced the launch of a new streaming service. Apple Music is set to launch on June 30, with 30 million iTunes songs, 24-hour live radio and curated playlists, for US$9.99 a month.

The new app seemed like a welcome addition to the increasingly competitive streaming market, but it came with a bit of bad press too. A few days ago, it was revealed that Apple Music’s three-month free trial had a trickle-down effect: writers, producers and artists would not be paid for streaming until the end of September, which would be particularly problematic for anyone who had an album dropping between now and then. (After that three-month period, Apple will pay music owners around 71-73% of their subscription revenue.)

Taylor Swift doesn’t have an album dropping between now and then, but she — along with other independent music labels and musicians — called them out anyway. In an open letter published overnight, Swift announced that, while Apple “will continue to be one of my best partners”, she will be holding back 1989 from Apple Music.

“This is not about me,” Swift wrote. “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 [who] will not get paid fora  quarter of a year’s worth of plays… Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing.”

This isn’t new territory for Swift, who pulled her music from Spotify last year saying the service was under-valuing the work of creatives, and could hurt music sales. Her Tumblr post overnight ended with a call to action: “I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company,” she wrote. “It’s not too late to change this policy, and change the minds of those in the music industry who wwill be deeply and gravely affected by this.”

And it appears that Apple are paying attention.

Earlier this afternoon, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue, sent out a few tweets that effectively reversed the company’s policy.

In an interview with Re/code, Cue expanded on the reversal: “I did reach out to Taylor today, and talked to her, and let her know that we heard her concerns, and wanted her to know that we were making changes,” he said. “She was thrilled to hear from us and that we were making the change, and we were grateful for that.”

He was also interviewed by 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.”

Feature image via Taylor Swift/Instagram.