Ap­ple bows to Tay­lor Swift on stream­ing pay­ments

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS - BY SHAUN TAN­DON

Tech gi­ant Ap­ple late Sun­day bowed to pres­sure from pop su­per­star Tay­lor Swift and raised pay­ments to artists for its forth­com­ing mu­sic stream­ing ser­vice.

The about-face by one of the world’s most pow­er­ful com­pa­nies showed the ex­tra­or­di­nary in­flu­ence of the 25-year-old Swift, who had vowed a par­tial boy­cott of the new Ap­ple Mu­sic ser­vice.

Swift, say­ing that she was speak­ing up for artists afraid of up­set­ting Ap­ple, had called the com­pany’s be­hav­ior “shock­ing” over its ear­lier plan not to pay for streams dur­ing cus­tomers’ ini­tial three-month free trial.

Eddy Cue, Ap­ple’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of In­ter­net soft­ware and ser­vices, said late Sun­day that the com­pany had shifted course and would com­pen­sate for streams in all stages.

Ap­ple mu­sic “will pay artist(s) for stream­ing, even dur­ing (cus­tomers’) free trial pe­riod,” he wrote on Twit­ter.

Mim­ick­ing Swift’s ear­lier protest, Cue wrote, “We love you (Tay­lor) and in­die artists. Love, Ap­ple.”

Cue sep­a­rately told in­dus­try jour­nal Bill­board that he tele­phoned Swift, who is in Am­s­ter­dam on her tour, af­ter re­ceiv­ing ap­proval from Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook.

He in­sisted that Ap­ple never in­tended to avoid com­pen­sa­tion and had heard plenty of con­cern from oth­ers be­sides Swift, although he was moved to ac­tion af­ter she went public.

Tough Stream­ing Com­pe­ti­tion

Ap­ple, which rev­o­lu­tion­ized the mu­sic in­dus­try through dig­i­tal down­loads with iTunes, on June 30 launches its new stream­ing plat­form as cus­tomers quickly shift to such on-de­mand, un­lim­ited In­ter­net cat­a­logs.

Swift has been an out­spo­ken critic of stream­ing leader Spo­tify, last year pulling her en­tire cat­a­log as she charged that the Swedish com­pany com­pen­sates artists too lit­tle.

Swift early Sun­day said that she would refuse to al­low her latest al­bum “1989” — by far the best­selling U.S. al­bum in the past year — to stream on Ap­ple Mu­sic due to the lack of pay­ment dur­ing the trial.

“I find it to be shock­ing, dis­ap­point­ing and com­pletely un­like this his­tor­i­cally pro­gres­sive and gen­er­ous com­pany,” Swift wrote in a post­ing on Tum­blr.

“These are not the com­plaints of a spoiled, petu­lant child. These are the echoed sen­ti­ments of ev­ery artist, writer and pro­ducer in my so­cial cir­cles who are afraid to speak up pub­licly be­cause we ad­mire and re­spect Ap­ple so much,” Swift wrote.

Swift said that her move was in part “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.”

Af­ter Ap­ple’s re­ver­sal, Swift wrote on Twit­ter: “I am elated and re­lieved. Thank you for your words of sup­port to­day. They lis­tened to us.”

Ap­ple has not gone public with de­tails on the pay­out struc­ture, but is known to have been in­volved in in­tense ne­go­ti­a­tions with ma­jor record la­bels.

Pros­e­cu­tors in New York and the neigh­bor­ing state of Con­necti­cut have started an ini­tial probe on whether ma­jor la­bels are col­lud­ing with Ap­ple to stop li­cens­ing con- tent to ri­vals.

Swift, a young coun­try star turned pop sen­sa­tion, is signed to an in­de­pen­dent la­bel, Big Ma­chine Records, al­low­ing her greater lee­way in de­ter­min­ing her mar­ket­ing.

Spo­tify has been es­pe­cially con­tro­ver­sial with artists as it of­fers a free tier, even be­yond a trial pe­riod, for cus­tomers who are not both­ered by ad­ver­tise­ments.

Spo­tify says that it nonethe­less pays back artists and has given out US$3 bil­lion in roy­al­ties since the Swedish com­pany’s launch in 2008.

Ap­ple plans to charge US$9.99 a month af­ter the three-month trial.

Other ri­vals in stream­ing in­clude Deezer, Rhap­sody, Rdio, Google Play and Tidal, which is spear­headed by rap mogul Jay-Z with a pro­fessed mis­sion to sup­port artists.

AP

In this May 17 file photo, Tay­lor Swift poses in the press room with the awards for top Bill­board 200 al­bum for “1989,” top fe­male artist, chart achieve­ment, top artist, top Bill­board 200 artist, top hot 100 artist, top dig­i­tal song artist, and top stream­ing song (video) for “Shake It Off” at the Bill­board Mu­sic Awards at the MGM Grand Gar­den Arena in Las Ve­gas.

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