They politely ignored protests from artists and independent labels, but Apple have now reversed the controversial payment policy for their new streaming service. Why? Because Taylor Swift slapped them harder than a ninja businessman in the "Bad Blood" video by dropping an atomic shame bomb over the weekend in the form of a Tumblr open letter (the 21st century’s most potent digital weapon).
Apple Music had been taking some serious heat for its proposal to not pay any royalties for music streamed during the three month free trials of their service—thus denying cash to artists whose music has rightfully earned money during that period—despite the fact the company is worth over $700 billion.
In essence, the whole thing was an enormous music industry superpower game of brinkmanship, in which Apple wanted the labels to absorb the cost of this free trial period for users, and the record labels and artists wanted Apple to dip into their colossal pockets and cover the costs. It wasn’t clear where that to-ing and fro-ing was going to end up, until T-Swizzle burst open the debate with an open letter on Saturday, which described Apple’s moves as "shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.”
Last night, Apple conceded and decided to reverse the policy following Swift’s swift intervention, evidenced by tweets from Senior Vice President Eddy Cue. He also told Buzzfeed they will now pay a “per stream” royalty payment to all artists during the free trial periods.
#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period
— Eddy Cue (@cue) June 22, 2015
It might sound rich of a pop star who could probably afford to move the moon a little to the left to be getting so particular about three months lost cash, but her letter made it clear that her cause was a worthy one:
“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. 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.”
It makes you think about how universally powerful Taylor Swift has become. What else could she sort out with her powerful Tumblr guile? Could we drop her into the Gaza-Israel conflict? Could we send her to protect that last male Northern white rhino from poachers? Can she sit in on the Grexit meetings and see if she can work out the figures? Can she fix the quick cycle setting on my dishwasher? It doesn't know when to end, and never drains. It's really annoying.
Anyway, tl;dr: Swift spoke, world is better.