Apple Bows to Queen Taylor, Does Abrupt About-Face Over Unpaid Streaming

Illustration for article titled Apple Bows to Queen Taylor, Does Abrupt About-Face Over Unpaid Streaming

Earlier today, noted hater of streaming music Taylor Swift published an open letter to Apple, blasting its decision to not pay artists during the three-month free trial for Apple Music. A few hours later, it appears that Apple got the message, and is changing its policy on paying artists.


In a series of messages posted on Twitter, Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue (also known as Apple’s Mr Fix-It) reaffirmed the company’s dedication to indie artists, and more importantly, announced that Apple will pay artists for streams during the three-month trial period.

In the wake of the Apple Music announcement, record labels and artists have been appreciative of Apple’s industry-high revenue-sharing offer (Apple is offering artists 71.5% of revenues, versus a standard 70%), but labels — in particular those representing indie artists — blasted the company’s decision not to pay artists anything during customers’ three-month free trial.

Although Apple argued that the higher revenue share would lead to greater payouts over time, artists worried that anyone releasing a new album during the first three months of Apple Music’s existence would receive diddly squat.


Although this is a big win for Ms Swift, there’s a few questions that still need answering: namely, will 1989 now be available on Apple Music, and how much revenue will Apple be sharing with artists during the 3-month trial period?

Update: According to Recode’s Peter Kafka, Apple will be paying artists on a different, per-stream basis during the free trial, rather than the revenue-sharing model used for paying subscribers.


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So wait. This whole uproar in the music community is about a 1.5% difference in revenue? I get that it’s more, and that at scale that’s probably a fair bit of money but I don’t understand how Apple is SO much better for offering a whole 1.5%. If it sucks as it is, is 1.5% really going to make it that much better? I’m legitimately curious now.