Taylor Swift Publicly Challenged Apple Music Without Her Label’s Approval
Taylor Swift brought Apple Music to its knees recently after publicly challenging its royalty structure — and she did so without the prior consent of her record label, Big Machine.
Swift posted an open letter in June, explaining her recent decision not to allow her current album, 1989, to be available on the streaming service. Her objection hinged on the policy that Apple would offer three free months of streaming for new subscribers, and would not pay writers, producers or artists for any of the streams on their songs for those three months.
“This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success," Swift argued. "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.”
In an interview at a recent tech conference, BMLG head Scott Borchetta admitted that he did not know Swift was going to make that move. It ended up playing right into his own plans.
“The conversation started with myself and the executives of Apple, just as a label group conversation of ‘I can’t support this. You need to pay us from the first stream,’” Borchetta said (quote via Diffuser.fm). “And those conversations were leading up to the weekend where Taylor posted the blog."
He adds, “She and I hadn’t spoken that week, so she literally texted me, [and] she said, ‘Don’t be mad,’ with the link. I said, ‘You don’t have any idea how good your timing is right now.'"
The letter went viral, and within hours Apple announced it would change its policy.
“When I woke up this morning and saw what Taylor had written, it really solidified that we needed a change,” Apple executive Eddy Cue said. “And so that’s why we decided we will now pay artists during the trial period.”
Borchetta is proud to credit his artist for the change.
“Everyone was fighting that fight,” he says. “There was a huge fight going on behind the scenes. I think that Taylor pushed it over the edge.”
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