Eddy Cue talks about Apple’s change of heart

If you are not a weekend reader, chances are you missed a lot yesterday.

First, yesterday morning, Taylor Swift posted an editorial laying out her thoughts on Apple not paying musicians during the three month Apple Music trial period.

Swift’s editorial got incredible traction. The blogosphere caught fire. Unusual, given that it was a Sunday and Father’s Day (here’s our writeup about Swift’s post and Jim’s plea for Apple execs to give up their salaries for three months to pay those musicians). This was clearly an issue that touched people deeply.

Then, yesterday evening, Eddy Cue posted this bit on Twitter:

#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period

Late that night, Eddy did an interview with Billboard to discuss the details.

On what prompted this decision:

We’ve been hearing a lot of concern from indie artists about not getting paid during the three-month trial period, which was never our intent. We never looked at it as not paying them.

We had originally negotiated these deals based on paying them a higher royalty rate on an ongoing basis to compensate for this brief time. But when I woke up this morning and saw what Taylor had written, it really solidified that we needed to make a change. And so that’s why we decided we will now pay artists during the trial period and we’ll also keep the royalty rate at the higher rate.

Clearly, Taylor Swift’s post was that last straw, the lever that moved the world. But also telling is Cue’s comment about royalty rate. As a reminder, one of the articles that started this whole brouhaha was this post from re/code. In it, Apple’s Robert Kondrk addressed the Apple Music royalty rate:

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.

The key words here are “in part to account for the lengthy trial period”. My sense here is that Apple thought they had a fair solution. Pay a higher rate, and in the long run, the artist will make more money. The problem with that approach, obviously, is that the artists didn’t buy into it.

The pleasant surprise is that Apple will keep that higher rate in place, during and after the free trial period. Perfect.

Now the only question is, will Taylor Swift return the favor and give Apple Music the ability to stream her massively popular 1989.

Your move, Taylor.