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How Taylor Swift Convinced Apple to Pay Independent Artists

Alyssa Bereznak
National Correspondent, Technology
Yahoo Tech

Taylor Swift, the musician who’s just as famous for her disagreements with music streaming companies as she is her long list of spurned lovers, has finally offered her opinion on Apple Music

Two weeks after Apple released its new $10-a-month streaming service, the pop star wrote the company a public letter on her Tumblr, explaining why she’s withholding her latest album,1989, from the subscription-based platform.

Per the post, which went up Sunday morning:

“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. 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.”

She went on, explaining that her decision was meant to be a signal of support for young, struggling musicians. 

“These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.

I realize that Apple is working towards a goal of paid streaming. I think that is beautiful progress. 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.

Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done. I hope that soon I can join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create this music. I think this could be the platform that gets it right.

But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.” 

Swift made headlines last November when she pulled her entire catalog from the subscription-based streaming service, Spotify. (Her explanation then was that she wasn’t willing to contribute her life’s work to an experiment). The CEO Daniel Ek fired back, mentioning that Swift was on track to make $6 million in royalties from her contract with the company. 

Swift’s sparring with Internet companies is not limited to the music industry. In February of this year, the cat-lover’s lawyers sent at least one cease-and-desist letter to an Etsy store owner for selling merchandise that contained her recently trademarked song lyrics. 

Hey, in the words of the singer herself: [Insert literally any melodramatic Swift lyric about break-ups here.]

Read Swift’s full letter here.

UPDATE, 11:30pm ET: 

Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue, Tweeted a response to Swift late Sunday night


There you have it, people. The power of Swift Shade is alive and real. Just ask Katy Perry.

UPDATE, Monday, June 22nd, 8:00 AM ET:

Re/Code’s Peter Kafka had a late-night conversation with Cue, who explained that Swift’s complaints, coupled with concerns from other independent artists, came to change his mind. He said he spoke to Apple CEO Tim Cook face-to-face on Sunday, and they decided to change Apple’s payment policy together.

Cue also reached out to Swift, who he said was “thrilled” to hear of the change. Cue doesn’t know if that’ll convince her to make 1989 available on Apple Music, but that, according to the interview, wasn’t the reasoning for his change.

Swift’s only public response was a thankful Tweet:

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