Taylor Swift Bemoans Apple’s Lack of Artist Payment in Open Letter
UPDATE: Apple has reversed course and agreed to pay artists during the service’s three-month trial period.
Taylor Swift has penned an open letter to Apple Music on her Tumblr explaining why her album 1989 won’t be on Apple’s new streaming service when it launches on June 30th. In the long note titled “To Apple, Love Taylor,” Swift takes issue with Apple Music’s free three-month trial for users, a period of time in which the service will not compensate artists for what is streamed.
“I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service,” Swift wrote. “I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.” Beggars Group and other independent labels also have expressed concerns about this free trial where their artists will be “unremunerated,” while Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe accused Apple Music of bullying him during agreement negotiations. (An Apple spokesperson denied Newcombe’s claims to Rolling Stone.)
Swift, who calls Apple “one of my best partners in selling music and creating ways for me to connect with my fans,” has been at the forefront of the fight for more royalties and better transparency from streaming services. Last November, the singer abruptly pulled her 1989 off Spotify, the industry leader in streaming, because “I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free,” she said at the time. When the all-star Tidal emerged earlier this year, Swift again refrained from offering up 1989, even though the rest of her catalog was available.
“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,” Swift wrote in her Apple Music open letter. “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.”
Swift – like the independent labels that are currently reluctant to sign their Apple Music contracts – is hopeful that Apple can sort things about before the service debuts in nine days. “I realize that Apple is working towards a goal of paid streaming. I think that is beautiful progress,” Swift wrote. “We know how astronomically successful Apple has been and we know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the 3 month trial period… even if it is free for the fans trying it out.”
Swift even seems amenable to giving Apple Music something that no other streaming platform can offer – 1989 – if Apple’s service works out their free three-month trial issues. To close out her open letter, Swift makes a cutting comparison for Apple: “We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”
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