Apple Music Changes Royalty Policy After Open Letter From Taylor Swift

Apple announced their new music streaming service, Apple Music, several weeks ago at this year’s WWDC. Beginning later this month, Apple users will be able to access unlimited streaming from just about any artist they would like for a mere $9.99/month, after a free three-month trial period, that is.

iDrop News™ published an article last week that detailed where the $9.99 subscription fee goes every month. Apple will be paying roughly 71.5% of their revenue to music labels, publishers, and other music owners – just a bit over the 70% that Spotify pays. Apple negotiated the higher rate to allow for their three-month trial period, during which Apple would not be paying any royalties. However, it looks like Apple has changed their tune after an open letter from Taylor Swift criticizing the move went viral last weekend.

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Taylor Swift published an open letter titled “To Apple, Love Taylor” on her Tumblr page on Sunday. The article criticizes Apple’s decision to stream the first three months of their service without paying any royalties to labels, publishers, or artists. In the letter, Swift declares that she will withhold her most recent (and most popular) album, 1989, from Apple Music’s streaming service in response to the unpaid free trial period. Swift famously pulled her entire catalog from streaming service Spotify last year due to low artist pay.

In her letter, Swift calls Apple’s decision “shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.” “Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it’s unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing”, Swift states, championing independent and burgeoning new artists, who the policy would effect the most. She goes on to note that she has nothing but “love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done” and that she hopes that she can soon “join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create the music.” He letter ends with a plea – “it’s not too late to change this policy… please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”

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The letter did the trick, apparently. Less than 24 hours after Swift published her letter, Apple’s senior VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue tweeted “We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.” Cue posted several other tweets, stating that “Apple will always make sure that artists are paid #iTunes #AppleMusic” and “#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period.” In an interview with Billboard, Cue said that it was Swift’s letter that caused the company to change their policy – “When I woke up this morning and saw what Taylor had written, it really solidified that we needed a change… and so that’s why we decide we will now pay artists during the trial period.”

News of the policy change went over well, with Taylor Swift tweeting that she is “elated and relieved” at the news, thanking Apple for their words of support. Although it’s still unclear whether or not Swift will make her 1989 album available on Apple Music, the relationship between the company and the artist looks much better today than it did a day ago.

The Apple Music service is set to launch at the end of this month, on June 30th. After the free trial period, users will pay $9.99/month, or $14.99/month for a family of up to six people.

 

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