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.