To Apple, love Taylor

Lots going around about Apple Music and the deal that has artists not getting paid during the three month trial period.

There are many sides to this issue. There’s the business spin, the long view that Apple should do whatever is necessary to compete against Spotify and the like, with a long term win for artists as they weather the move from paid downloads to streaming.

There’s a comparison to other services, like HBO Now. Does HBO pay their fees to shows when they offer a free, three-month trial?

Artists signed the deals they signed. If they gave their labels the power to negotiate this deal with Apple, some of that anger certainly should go to the contract they signed.

There’s the non-business, fairness issue. Is it fair to an artist that Apple uses their music to build a customer-base without compensating that artist?

And there’s the view that Apple should follow a specific path because of their cash position.

A few days ago, this story took a turn when Taylor Swift announced that she would not allow Apple to include her hugely popular album, 1989, as part of the Apple Music stream.

The first response to this news was, this was not about Apple, that Swift was making a business decision regarding streaming in general.

Then, this morning, Taylor Swift released a blog post entitled, To Apple, Love Taylor.

From the post:

I write this to explain why I’ll be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music. I feel this deserves an explanation because Apple has been and will continue to be one of my best partners in selling music and creating ways for me to connect with my fans. I respect the company and the truly ingenious minds that have created a legacy based on innovation and pushing the right boundaries.

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.

To deflect criticism that this move is self-serving, Swift continues:

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.

This is a growing public relations problem for Apple. At some point, does this become a big enough issue to erode the gains to their business model?

Swift concludes her post with this:

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.

A well written, savvy post by Swift. Whether heartfelt or Machiavellian manipulation, her post will no doubt be seen by millions of her fans and, most importantly, millions of potential Apple customers.



  • StruckPaper

    Good tactic by Swift. Artists don’t ask Apple for free iPhones for promotion (well, I am sure many do) and so Apple shouldn’t ask artists for free music for promotion, even if promotion is bilateral. Good one, Taylor.

    • HowmaNoid

      I’m sure artists get paid big bucks to promote iPhones. Few of the ones I know do anything for free (rightly so).

  • Vera Comment

    gotta admire Swift a little bit. while I don’t care for her music, she seems awfully grounded/down to earth for someone her age and hugely popular.

    some of the stuff she does for her fans seems legit and heartfelt.. now this letter demonstrates business acumen

    Ms. Swift is wise beyond her years.

    • Or her PR people are.

    • HowmaNoid

      ROFL. Sorry I just threw up a little.

  • LTMP

    The biggest irony will be if she joins Apple’s streaming service after the three month free period. If so, she will be guilty of riding on the coat tails of all those artists who participated in the promotion. She’s asking Apple to not only provide the streaming service for free, but to pay the artists as well. But its unfair to ask the artists to give up something for free?

    • StruckPaper

      Your logic is so faulty that it’s not funny. No one is asking Apple to provide streaming for free. Apple made that decision.

    • She will.

    • zenwaves

      Faulty logic in that there is no universal begin and end date for the three-month trial. It would begin when anyone decides to try it, and end three months thereafter.

      • LTMP

        I hadn’t realized that that was the case. Still, I think she’s a pompous little crybaby. For decades, artists were willing to pay payola just to get their songs heard in the hopes that people would then scour the record stores looking for their songs. If I were an ‘undiscovered talent today, I would be very happy for the free exposure.

        • James Hughes

          Sadly the exposure is the same whether free or not.

          • LTMP

            I wonder if that is true. I wonder if iTunes radio will play artists who are not part of the streaming service. If not, then presumably, you would lose your chance at a huge breakout hit (assuming iTunes radio has much sway over perceptions).

      • Tom_P

        Do you have a link for this?

  • t_slothrop

    I understand her point, and given Apple’s massive cash hoard, they should probably eat the cost of the three free months. On the other hand, if they actually manage to sign up anything close to that target of 100 million users due to that three month trial, I would think that the enormous membership would more than make up for the royaly-free three months.

    • James Hughes

      I guess that’s the problem though. The “if” part.

  • GS

    Nobody here is a charitable service, not Apple, not the record labels, not Apple. I am sure that Taylor Swift’s label does promotional work, and that is a cost of doing business. Swift is a business like any other. Why not have a limited catalog available during the “free” period?

    • GS

      *obviously meant not Taylor Swift, not Apple twice.

    • ricemaven

      Her first four albums will be on Apple Music, as they already are on every streaming service that does not offer “free” streaming — like Tidal and Rdio. She is holding her latest album off of all steaming services. It’s simple: “No pay, no play”

  • StruckPaper

    Deconstruct Swift’s logic all we want, it doesn’t change the fact that the musicians do not like this and they have a following every bit as loyal if not more so than Apple’s. This is a PR problem for Apple.

    • Tom_P

      I don’t see it hurts Spotify much. I certainly don’t see it’ll hurt the free-3-months-all-you-can-eat music subscription much.

      • StruckPaper

        Umm … you don’t know how this all works at all. I recommend you learn the details of how Spotify compensates the rights owners before saying something like that.

        • Tom_P

          I didn’t talk about Spotify compensation. I’m talking about “PR nightmare” when Taylor Swift taken her music off, which didn’t hurt Spotify much. Can’t see how it will be different to Apple music.

          • StruckPaper

            Sigh … The problem wasn’t about losing Swift music. It was about Swift and other artists putting negative spotlight on AppleMusic. And guess what … Apple agrees with me. Ha!

          • Tom_P

            Still doesn’t change the fact that the lack of Taylor Swift’s music barely hurts Spotify. Apple could have changed their plan for many reason. One of them might be now there’s no excuse for labels to not participate in Apple Music, is there?

    • David Stewart

      Every bit as loyal, but not willing to pay for music?

  • HowmaNoid

    This airhead doesn’t understand the concept of promotion. That or she’s very afraid that her little ditty won’t stand more than one or two plays at best. Hmmm.

    • ricemaven

      She has the best marketing talents of anyone in the music business. Three albums in s row selling more than one million copies the first week. Only artist ever to do that. That alone defines skilled promotion.

      • HowmaNoid

        Yeah. Proof you can sell anything.

        • rattyuk

          You sir have never made music for a living.

          • HowmaNoid

            No but I’ve been an artist promotor for a very long time. I’m in the business dude. I know what goes on and Apple isn’t the problem. OK?

          • rattyuk

            “No but I’ve been an artist promotor for a very long time.” Ah another pig at the trough scamming money of the musician.

            Congratulations.

          • HowmaNoid

            F you buddy! You know nothing about my business practices are what I do. You’re just a self opinionated asshat who’s spouting off about something you know nothing about. F’ing troll.

          • rattyuk

            “You’re just a self opinionated asshat who’s spouting off about something you know nothing about.”

            I think the same phrase could be used on yourself.

            OK

            I’ll bite, please explain in as many words as you need how that this will actually, genuinely help artists.

            Remember the people I am talking about you haven’t heard of. How is this going to work to provide them with sufficient income to feed themselves and their families.

            You told me that I know nothing about your business practices.

            Well provide the information I require to be enlightened.

          • HowmaNoid

            It’s simple. When you promote music people buy more. It’s been proven time and time again. Remember “Home taping is killing music”? Guess what happened. Music sales sky rocketed!

          • rattyuk

            Not sure how unknown artists who are not signed to you or your promotions company get a leg up.

            “Remember “Home taping is killing music”? Guess what happened. Music sales sky rocketed!”

            Are you form the UK? That was a long time ago. How have sales been lately?

          • HowmaNoid

            Very few people make money from music these days. You can get into the charts with ~5000 sales. It’s pathetic. People are getting gold discs for 15,000 sales. You used to need 750,000. The industry continues to whine when it’s done NOTHING to change its business practices. Spotify is a great example. They just out our evolved.

          • GG

            I’ve never heard of 750k for gold singles or albums. It’s 500k units for each now, and the RIAA says 100 streams = 1 unit, so that’s no easier. If they really are handing out gold certs for 15k units, then I need a few to make some more wall hangings. Can you link an example?

          • Prove you’re a promoter. You’re making a claim based on your supposed industry experience and expertise. I can verify who taylor swift is, and her successes and failures within the industry.

            If you’re going to claim special knowledge and experience, then provide proof you actually have that.

          • HowmaNoid

            LOL. You want my resume? LOL. Look at the sleeve notes of the last Visage album.

          • How about a website with your face that links to your disqus profile. Can’t be too hard to provide, right?

            Given you’re not using your real name, “looking you up” is a tad difficult.

          • HowmaNoid

            Yeah we’ll take a pony and a unicorn while we’re at it. You go ahead and find a website with Swift’s manager on it. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

          • That’s what i thought. “I’M A PROMOTER, I KNOW THiS SHIT BETTER THAN YOU”

            “Prove it”

            (runs away)

            Ms. Swift put her name on her words. Guess she’s got far bigger stones and more of a spine than you.

            Definitely makes her more of an expert than you are.

          • HowmaNoid

            Christ you’re a bigger dick than rattyuk. You don’t have anything to offer about the subject do you? F’ing trolls. Wankers.

          • You’re claiming some kind of special insider knowledge. I’m just asking that you provide some sort of proof of that, given you’re posting under a pseudonym, and so can claim anything you wish.

            If you’re going to make the claim, and said claim is true, then proving it should be cake. It’s really only a problem if you’re talking out of your nethers about being a promoter.

          • HowmaNoid

            Well let’s all just bow to your vastly superior knowledge.. Twat.

          • Oh bless your heart, my thick-as-a-whale-omelette love. I’ve not claimed any superior knowledge on the subject. That’s what you’ve done. I’ve just been so unforgivably rude as to ask you to provide some proof of said knowledge.

            I’ll point out you could have done so a few comments ago, but have instead chosen to attack me for asking the question. Almost as if you’ve something you can’t quite prove.

        • Moeskido

          So which is it? Does she not understand promotion, or is she great at it?

          • HowmaNoid

            OK. I’ll bite on that one and you won’t like the answer. If she doesn’t get it then she needs to go to school, because it’s been proved over and over that if you give a little away people buy more. Remember “Home taping is killing music”? Sales skyrocketed. If she does get it (and I’m beginning to think she might) then this is nothing but a cynical act to grab the spotlight because she knows she’s getting paid from this as there’s no way the labels would let Apple just give away their product. Hell if they are willing to sue the crap out of soccer moms coz their kids downloaded 4 tracks off Napster, what do you think they’d do to a deep pocket target like Apple. Yeah. This is all legit and little Mr Shake it Off knows it.

          • Moeskido

            Seems to me that Swift’s people are playing the same kind of hardball that the labels and Apple are playing: don’t let anyone else force you to give away anything. Appearing weak means all your money ends up with the gonifs.

            I don’t care about Swift’s music either, but she can afford to do this because of her enormous success, and I don’t begrudge that at all.

            Apple’s the one that chose to run a sale on mayonnaise by asking Hellman’s to pay for it.

            Update: and I’ll bet that Swift’s organization is perfectly capable of doing their own promotion work, thank you.

          • rattyuk

            Thanks HowMan, You didn’t answer my question directly but if you’re talking “Visage” and “Home Taping is Skill in Music” then you are most certainly old school promotions form the UK, in which case the phrase “payola” was the wrong one.

            However you were wrong in this case and despite your protestations that Apple won’t pay the musicians etc it now seems that they will.

            Looks like a win for the new way of doing things.

    • StruckPaper

      That’s laughable. She understands it far better than you do. Achieve something, anything to the level of success that she has and wield the same power, and then you might get it.

      • HowmaNoid

        Do I look like a give a fig?

        • struckpaper

          Enough to mouth off. Easy to mock her and yet she understands the situation better than you, and has the clout to take such a stand. Who’s the airhead?

      • David Stewart

        The people in charge of Apple Music are actually far more successful than Swift (Iovine, Dre, etc.).

    • Richard

      You can disagree with her position if you like but she’s definitely not an airhead.

      • HowmaNoid

        If she thinks THIS is the issue when her label is gauging the crap out of her every single day, then yeah, I think airhead is appropriate.

        • rattyuk

          It’s not her label and she’s earning enough it is the smaller artist that is getting ripped off here. Apple do not have the rights to do this kind of promotional work and if they do then they have a dreadful legal department that could possibly allow this.

        • Richard

          Such an airhead that Apple has changed its mind.

    • rattyuk

      “This airhead doesn’t understand the concept of promotion.” No. She’s in a position of power and forcing Apple to do the right thing.

      Apple were supposed to be better than Spotify. But nuking the indies it is a huge step worse.

      If Apple give away my music for free they should pay for it as opposed to making an offer I cannot decline. I thought Iovine was better than this.

      Apparently not only can’t he deliver a keynote he’s also capable of ripping off unknown artists at a whim.

      Apple is better than this.

      • HowmaNoid

        OK you obviously don’t know that her label is taking 80% of her revenue! THEY are costing her a hell of a lot more over the course of her career than a 90 day promo. Don’t start in on me coz I worked in that industry for years. I’ve seen top flight artists work their asses off for years, with major hits and walk away with almost nothing. If you want to point fingers at companies for treating artists badly there is a very long long list ahead of Apple.

        • rattyuk

          @HowmaNoid:disqus

          “OK you obviously don’t know that her label is taking 80% of her revenue! THEY are costing her a hell of a lot more over the course of her career than a 90 day promo.” Irrelevant. She’s standing up for those who don’t have a contract in place or with very small music labels.

          Musicians have to eat.

          • HowmaNoid

            And they would be eating if Apple weren’t doing a promo?? RIIIIGHT…. Do you know that 80% of all the money made by artists goes to the top 1% of artists in the business? No of course you don’t. Think about what you’re saying.

          • rattyuk

            Listen people get nothing on Spotify. The punters love it, but seriously the amount they get paid it might as well be Napster.

            Might be great for you as a promoter.

            But this is wrong.

            In the UK every single radio play used to generate royalties.

            You may be happy with Payola but this is wrong.

          • HowmaNoid

            That’s all a function of the contracts they signed. Remember when the iPod launched and the labels gave Apple sweetheart deals thinking it was never going to anything but a novelty? Same thing here. Shame them, not Apple.

    • Meaux

      Sure she does. When you promote yourself, you pay. When you use someone else’s stuff to promote your stuff, you pay them. If you give away promotional CDs, do you tell the CD manufacturer and the printer, “Sorry, can’t pay you for this, I’m giving them away for promotional reasons. When I get paid for the CDs, I’ll pay you”?

      • HowmaNoid

        She’s lying through her teeth about this. She knows Apple has paid to do this. It’s nothing more than a stunt to gain column inches.

        • Meaux

          Stop making stuff up. Apple didn’t pay for this, their justification is that they pay an extra 1.5% when the paid tier eventually kicks in. Which is pretty weak sauce as a subscriber would have to have an average life of 12.5 years to make up for 3 free months.

          “Apple won’t pay music owners anything for the songs that are streamed during Apple Music’s three-month trial period, a bone of contention with music labels during negotiations for the new service. But Kondrk says Apple’s payouts are a few percentage points higher than the industry standard, in part to account for the lengthy trial period; most paid subscription services offer a free one-month trial.”

          http://recode.net/2015/06/15/heres-what-happens-to-your-10-after-you-pay-for-a-month-of-apple-music/

          • HowmaNoid

            So you think Tim Cook is breaking copyright law, exposing Apple to multi-million dollar law suits by the labels? LOL.. Don’t think Apple is that dumb. They have contracts in place that allow them to do this. They have paid whatever the rights holders wanted for this to happen. If it’s peanuts, then blame the label’s negotiators, not Apple.

          • Meaux

            Well, that’s what Swift and her label are doing, they’re pulling out because they don’t like the terms. You’re the one throwing a hissy fit like a child because someone has dared to negotiate with Apple.

          • Moeskido

            I think he might just be bitter because he’s not part of it.

  • Scott Adams

    I would guess this throws a pretty big wrench in the antitrust investigations by NY and CT, no? Her position seems pretty consistent.

    As far as the content of the message, it may get a lot of attention but does the public really care. That same public went off pirating her music for years. They weren’t even willing to pay $.99/$1.29. I suspect most will shrug their shoulders and go on about their lives.

    I do think Apple has gotten pretty tone deaf on music in recent years, pun intended.

    • “but does the public really care. “

      Nope. Not even a little bit.

  • TWF

    “I care about the little guy so much that I’m going to ensure my own profits are safe.”

    Yeah, real altruistic.

    • rattyuk

      Not entirely sure that’s the issue here.

    • Moeskido

      How altruistic do you expect her to be? How altruistic do you expect her label is inclined to be?

  • Peter Moeser

    “Artists signed the deals they signed. If they gave their labels the power to negotiate this deal with Apple, some of that anger certainly should go to the contract they signed.”

    Bingo.

    • rattyuk

      Well I have a friend who owns his own publishing his recordings and his mechanicals and it took him three years to get his music taken down from Spotify.

      They didn’t ask him for permission, didn’t have a contract, and yet his music appeared there anyway.

    • HowmaNoid

      Thank god someone on this thread gets it. The labels are the biggest source of pain to artists, not distributors like Apple.

      • rattyuk

        Not at all. See my post below. These companies (Spotify, Pandora and now Apple Music) will do whatever they want to do with music they do not own.

        • HowmaNoid

          That’s utter nonsense. Do you think for one second that Sony, BMG, Universal et al wouldn’t be firing lawsuits at those companies if that were the case. That’s a ridiculous thing to say. Of course there are contracts in place that given the use of the material. Would you say the same thing about radio stations??

          • rattyuk

            This is a single artist that owned his own material outright.

            The big companies get their backhanders.

            It cost him a lot for this new version of Napster to take down his illegally uploaded music.

  • Slurpy2k11

    Swift is nothing but an attention-whore. And a greedy, dishonest one, at that, pretending to give a shit about the “indie labels” when in reality she just wants a few extra bucks in her pocket.

    • StruckPaper

      Easy to say. But meaningless and it shows you don’t get it. She is wielding power that you could never dream to have.

    • HowmaNoid

      THANK YOU!!! She’s got more attention from this unfounded temper tantrum than she did from the launch of the album.

      • rattyuk

        You are wrong.

        • HowmaNoid

          No. I’m not.

    • Moeskido

      I’d guess that goes along with having had to deal with the attention-whores who run big labels. Give anything away, and you’re perceived as weak and exploitable.

    • Meaux

      You should probably do your homework, she’s signed with an indie label. I would presume she cares about at least that one indie label.

  • I for one, welcome not having free Taylor swift, or paid for, or if you paid me

    • HowmaNoid

      A-FRICKIN-MEN!

  • Richard

    They might not be getting paid during the trial but they’re not receiving no value. I get both sides positions though.

    • rattyuk

      @Richard So what gives Apple the right to give away my music as a promotion for their new service? If you’re giving away my music you should pay. I wasn’t given any say.

      • Jonjoshe

        What gives Apple the right? Well, probably the agreements they’ve made with those owning the rights to the music…nobody’s been forced.

        • rattyuk

          “What gives Apple the right? Well, probably the agreements they’ve made with those owning the rights to the music…”

          Not sure that the smaller labels would do that knowingly.

          • Jonjoshe

            If they don’t read the contract, then honestly that’s their problem. They’ve still given their permission.

          • rattyuk

            So you know that they have the right to do this, then? You’ve seen the contracts?

    • HowmaNoid

      Exactly Richard they are getting a shit-ton of free pub. Probably more than they could afford to buy.

      • rattyuk

        “Exactly Richard they are getting a shit-ton of free pub. Probably more than they could afford to buy.”

        Not at all.

        It means that Apple are giving away their music while they would like to eat.

        Won’t effect them in the next few months but next quarter they will not get paid.

        It would kind of been nice if Apple actually did the right thing. It’s not like they don’t have the money to fix this.

        • HowmaNoid

          Apple’s not GIVING away anything. Apple Music is a subscription service. As such is has contracts in place with the labels. Do you know that Apple aren’t paying the labels for the 3 months of promo? You’ve seen the contracts? Labels NEVER give ANYTHING away.

          • rattyuk

            Not at all.

            The first three months are free.

            Someone owes the royalty payments.

            But Apple has decided to not pay them and give the service away.

            That shouldn’t be Apple’s decision to make.

          • HowmaNoid

            They’re free to the user. Do you think the labels all just decided to let Apple give away their product for a quarter? They don’t do that. Someone’s getting paid and someone is swallowing the cost. You now need to show me PROOF that Apple has just gone rogue and is breaking copyright law by giving away copyrighted material without the rights holders consent. Do that and you have a point. Without it you GUESSING and I know enough about how this business really works to know that you are wrong.

          • rattyuk

            If that were true it would be fine. The whole of this discussion is predicated on the fact that Apple were not paying any royalties for the next three months.

            Which part of:

            “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.”

            Don’t you understand?

            If the labels are getting backhanders that is even worse.

            All the artists will get nice boxes of assorted alcoholic drinks for Christmas but they won’t actually get paid.

          • HowmaNoid

            Yes I understand perfectly. Apple would not be paying writers, performers or artists ANYWAY. That is the job of THE LABEL.

            Do you honestly think that Tim Cook and Co are going to put Apple Inc at dire legal risk of a multi-million dollar law suit by the record labels by ignoring copyright law by giving away property they don’t own for free? You really think Cupertino is THAT stupid???

            So given that it is EXTREMELY UNLIKELY that they are doing that then the WHOLE premise for this ridiculous discourse is founded on CRAP.

          • rattyuk

            So, to be clear.

            Apple is paying the artists that make and record the music?

          • HowmaNoid

            FFS!!!! NO!!!!!!!!! Apple has a contract with the rights holders that allows them to do this. Apple has NEVER paid and artist EVER for ANYTHING. That’s not what they do. Man you really don’t understand how this shit works. The rights holders (usually labels in the early years of an artists career) are responsible for paying the artists and writers their royalties. Apple is paying the rights holders for the right to use under the terms of the contracts that they have with them.

            See why I got so pissed my Swifts open letter? She is creating a false impression of what’s going on. It’s nothing more than a publicity stunt and you fell for it.

          • rattyuk

            That didn’t explain the Spotify example above.

            The artist was the rights holder and the publisher and the label.

            It took him 3 years and a large legal bill for his wholly owned material to get taken down.

          • HowmaNoid

            You just keep digging a bigger hole. Apple does not contract with individual artists. Indies have to go through iTunes distributors like CD-Baby ( and a handful of others). They basically behave like labels, taking a massive cut for the little they do. Spotify has it’s own terms that are nothing to do with Apple so that example has nothing to do with what we’re discussing here. You’d have to go talk to them about their T&Cs.

  • Meaux

    I would note that when Apple gave away the U2 album, U2 got paid $100M.

  • Moeskido

    When your local grocery store decides to run a big sale on corn flakes as a loss-leader, do they ask Kellogg’s to help pay for it?

    • rattyuk

      “When your local grocery store decides to run a big sale on corn flakes as a loss-leader, do they ask Kellogg’s to help pay for it?”

      Not at all. They pay for it. Which is not what Apple are doing here.

      • Moeskido

        Bingo.

        Whose service is this? Whose venture needs promotion? Who’s being asked to pay for that promotion?

  • TomCrown

    Someone might want to look into Swifts business practices, I’d wager she isn’t as altruistic when its her money she has to payout to others.