There is controversy brewing around the Apple Music streaming service and their payment process for the artists during the free three-month trial period. In an open letter, seven time Grammy Award winner Taylor Swift explains why she is holding back her latest album 1989 from the service, and calls the multi-billion dollar company out on their hypocrisy.
“I’m not sure you [the fans] 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.”
“We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”
Taylor Swift’s success has grown constantly, without ever really wavering. Her star-power and place as a musical icon is so definitive that she has earned the right to draw attention to the controversial topic of asking people to pay for music; particularly when those people are arguably one of biggest and most powerful musical corporations in the world. People are generally made uncomfortable by artists such as Taylor, who has a net-worth of $200 million at the age of 25, Forbes magazine reports. Swift is no fool, though. She acknowledges her privilege as a now substantial artist, stating
“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.”
The act of performing and making music is a gift, which you give to people in exchange for another gift, in the form of money. The public are generally unaware that record companies keep up to and in some cases 90% of all the money artists such as Taylor Swift produce. This often leaves artists with massive debts, relying on their tours and merchandise sales to close the gap, and hopefully be left with something to put in their savings account.
Taylor’s most recent album, 1989, sold 1.287 million copies in its first week, and her 1989 tour is selling out worldwide, showcasing that a few months of free streaming won’t be detrimental to her. This however, was only made possible for Taylor due to her relentless work in the beginning of her career, and most importantly; constantly being paid for that work. Taylor acknowledges this, stating
“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.”
Apple’s Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue, responded to Swifts letter via twitter within hours.
Taylor has used her star power to ensure payment for every artist, mostly the ones who are struggling financially. For the music business, that is something. Thank you, Taylor.