Sun Sentinel Broward Edition
Apple, in music shift, feels the power of Taylor Swift
PALO ALTO, Calif. — Even mighty Apple can’t say no to Taylor Swift.
Hours after the pop superstar criticized the giant tech company in an open letter posted online Sunday, Apple announced that it will pay royalties to artists and record labels for music played during a free, three-month trial of its new streaming music service.
“When I woke up this morning and I saw Taylor’s note that she had written, it really solidified that we needed to make a change,” said Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue.
Apple had already agreed to share revenue from paid subscriptions to the new Apple Music service, which will cost $10 a month. But Swift said she would withhold her latest album from the service because Apple wasn’t planning to pay artists and labels directly for the use of their music during the free, introductory period.
“We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compen- sation,” Swift wrote in an open letter on her Tumblr page, under the heading “To Apple, Love Taylor.”
Apple has maintained that it negotiated revenuesharing at rates that are slightly higher than the industry standard, to compensate for the three months that it plans to offer its streaming service without charge.
“We had factored that in,” Cue said. But he added, “We had been hearing from artists that this was going to be rough on them, so we are making this change.”
Cue declined to say how much Apple will pay in royalties for streaming during the free trial period. He said Apple will share 71.5 percent of its revenue from paid subscriptions within the United States and 73 percent from subscriptions outside the country, while other streaming services generally share about 70 percent.
Some artists and independent labels had worried they would miss out on opportunities to get a financial return from new music that is released during the three-month trial. Swift said she spoke out on their behalf.
Swift wasn’t immediately available for comment on Apple’s change of heart. But she posted a reaction on Twitter late Sunday, saying “I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us.”
Cue wouldn’t comment on whether she will now make her album “1989” available on Apple Music. But he said he spoke with Swift personally Sunday. “She was very pleased to see that we would give her a call right away and have a discussion,” he said.
Since Apple began selling digital music through its iTunes store in 2001, he added: “We’ve always loved music and have strived to make sure that artists are getting paid for their work.”
Swift wrote in her post that she found Apple’s original stance to be “shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.”
She added: “We know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the 3 month trial period.”