Taylor's Tantrum Leads To Apple Music Policy Change


Taylor's Tantrum Leads To Apple Music Policy Change

In what can only be described as the rich squabbling with the richer, Taylor Swift's announcement she would pull her album from Apple's new streaming service has the company changing its tune.

Just hours after the super wealthy pop-star criticized Apple in an open letter posted online, the Cupertino based maker of iDevices announced Sunday that it will indeed pay royalties to artists and record labels for music played during a free, three month trial of its new streaming music service.

Previously Apple had negotiated with the record labels to waive such fees during the free trial period.

Tantrums, predictably, ensued.

Apple will share revenue from $10 per month paid subscriptions to its new Apple Music service with artists but Swift, who notoriously hates the idea of people having access to radio, said she would withhold her latest album because Apple wasn't planning to pay artists and labels directly for the use of their music during the free trial period.

Yet the move has more to do with Swift's disdain for the concept of radio than it does Apple's opportunistic cash grab. Swift has withheld her music from other streaming sites she feels simply don't pay enough, despite the fact music has made her fantastically wealthy.

"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, in a rare press interview.

Apple maintains that it negotiated revenue sharing at rates that are slightly higher than the industry standard, in order to compensate for the three months that it plans to offer its streaming service for free.

"We had factored that in," Cue said Sunday. But asking rich pop-stars to do math is clearly a bridge too far, especially when those artists want to use advances in technology to push music back to medieval times, where only the very rich could afford to purchase playable music.

Swift's comments show just how out of touch the diva is with reality, as Apple has been the lead advocate for that medieval repression, stubbornly pushing its iTunes service, which requires users to pay a high rate for each and every song the listen to.

But as we covered earlier, the reality for most Americans is that both iTunes and even services like Apple Music are just too expensive.

This is why radio worked. It was delivered at no cost for listeners and used a promotional tool by record labels. By promoting a small group of artists, those that could afford to pay bought albums and concert tickets, which created the rockstar, a musician who could become fantastically wealthy.

That wealth was created only because a select few artist got fed into the gigantic no cost promotional machine that was radio. Over the air television, again delivered at no cost, also played a major role.

In Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify and all the other streaming music services the same concept holds, except record labels, broadcasters and artists have all decided to use the new medium to extract even more fees from their fans. $10 per month, to be precise.

In short, Big Music wants you to pay for the privilege of them promoting to you.

Ms Swift doesn't seem to appreciate any of this, still thinking of herself as a homely old artist just making a living. Yet she, and her tens of millions, exist precisely because her music hasn't been kept locked away but because it has been shared far and wide, for free.

The most obvious way she benefited from this free distribution is that she rose to fame on the Nashville record circuit doing both free concerts and then signing a with a major label, which broadcast her for free across the nation on radio.

She won the lottery to be fed into the no cost promotion machine and didn't drop the ball. Fame, fortune and an army of Swifties predictably followed.

But Swift has clearly forgotten all this or never bothered to look into it, as she announced on her Twitter account last night that she was "elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us."

Just what exactly she's relieved from should probably be filed under the hashtag #popstarproblems, while just who exactly she means by 'us' is equally quizzical.

Ms Swift is in the top .01% of artists globally in terms of earnings thanks specifically to the mass promotion offered by radio and the rockstar phenomena that promotional juggernaut created.

She can either be a rockstar with no cost radio or a regular artist making an average living with 100% paid music distribution.

We're betting she'll keep her tens of millions.

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