Apple Music Bows to Taylor Swift, Will Pay Artists During Free Trial

Singer's open letter inspires tech giant to rethink three-month free trial

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Apple Music has agreed to compensate artists during their three-month free trial after Taylor Swift's open letter criticizing the tech giant. Michel Porro/Getty

Taylor Swift has slayed a giant: Less than a day after the singer penned an open letter to Apple protesting the lack of artist compensation during Apple Music's free three-month trial, the company has agreed to pay artists during that period. In a series of tweets late Sunday night, Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue revealed, "Apple Music will pay artist for streaming, even during customer's free trial period."

"Apple will always make sure that artist[s] are paid," Cue tweeted. "We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple," a nod to Swift's open letter, "To Apple, Love Taylor." After reading Swift's open letter, Cue personally called Swift in Amsterdam to tell her Apple would compensate artists during the trial. "When I woke up this morning and I saw Taylor's note that she had written, it really solidified that we needed to make a change," Cue told The Associated Press. "We had been hearing from artists that this was going to be rough on them, so we are making this change."

Following Cue's tweets, Swift herself tweeted, "I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us." With eight days left before Apple Music launches on June 30th, the streaming service has cleared a major hurdle in its efforts to sign independent labels – like Beggars Group, which operates XL and Matador – to a licensing agreement before Apple Music goes live.

A representative for Beggars declined to comment on Apple's decision.

An Apple spokesperson declined to specify artist compensation details to Rolling Stone. However, a rep for the company said that the three-month trial wouldn't strictly run from June 30th to September 30th; instead, the free period would begin whenever the user signed up for Apple Music, whether it was June 30th or anytime afterwards.

"I'm sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free three-month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I'm not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months," Swift wrote in her open letter, which also elaborated on why she would refrain from putting her smash 1989 on the service. "I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company." Swift closed her open letter with the cutting remark, "We don't ask you for free iPhones. Please don't ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation."

While the singer seemed open to giving Apple Music something that no other streaming service could offer – 1989 – if they worked out their three-month trial issues, Cue wouldn't comment whether Swift's newest album would be on Apple Music come June 30th. In an interview with Re/Code, Cue was similarly elusive about 1989's Apple Music status, but he reiterated that Swift's open letter – and not the enticement of 1989 – was the catalyst for Apple's about-face. A representative for Swift did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

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