Apple Agrees To Pay Musicians During Free Trial After Taylor Swift Shamed iTunes

The Cupertino based company now will pay to celebrities the free trial period.

Taylor Swift is not only a popular music star but also the world’s most effective Apple lobbyist. Photo: ritika Patel/Flickr

Taylor Swift is not only a popular music star but also the world’s most effective Apple lobbyist. Photo: ritika Patel/Flickr

This morning, the popular singer took to Tumblr to write an open letter to Apple complaining about the company’s policy of not paying music owners when people try its upcoming Apple Music service for a three-month trial period.

“I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free three-month trial to anyone who signs up for the service,” wrote Swift. “I’m not sure you 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.”

“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,” Swift continued. “This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. … Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing.”

Tonight, Apple media boss Eddy Cue appears to solve the problem.

“#AppleMusic will pay artist [sic] for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period,” Cue said on Twitter, without revealing about who Apple would pay, or how much, or any other detail.

He confirmed the news in an interview with BuzzFeed News. Apple’s media boss said the Californian tech maker will pay artists on a per stream basis during the free three-month trial.

Afterwards, it will pay music owners 71.5% of Apple Music’s subscription revenue in the United States. Internationally, the number will fluctuate, but will average out at around 73%.

The initial decision to forego payments was met with heavy criticism from the music industry at large, especially independent record labels who would be facing a steep charge to be a part of the platform.

“We’ve been watching the discussion for the past week,” Cue said. “We want artists to be paid for their work, and when we hear from them — from Taylor or from indie artists — we listen to them. Taylor’s tweet today solidified the issue for us and we decided to make a change.”

He went on, unveiling that he called Taylor Swift earlier today to tell her about Apple’s decision. However, Swift has not yet agreed to allow her music on Apple’s new streaming service.

So what does Taylor Swift, author of the world’s most powerful Tumblr, think of this?  “I did reach out to Taylor today, and talked to her, and let her know that we heard her concerns, and wanted her to know that we were making changes,” Cue said. “She was thrilled to hear from us and that we were making the change, and we were grateful for that.”

Cue says he hasn’t talked to any other musicians, labels or publishers yet. Apple will keep the existing royalty rates it has already hammered out with the three major music labels for subscribers, he says.

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