Taylor Swift won't let Apple Music stream '1989' until they agree to pay all artists for all streams
Taylor Swift’s fight against unpaid music streaming services continued this week, with the artist releasing an open letter to Apple over their three month free trial offer to bring subscribers to Apple Music. She doesn’t have a problem with Apple offering fans a free trial — she takes issue with the giant (and very profitable) company not paying the artists, writers and producers during the free trial. With the decision to keep her latest release, 1989, off the streaming service, Swift called out what she sees as a growing culture that doesn’t value the work going into making music.
This isn’t the first time Swift has taken on streaming. She pulled her entire catalogue from Spotify last year, and has been an outspoken opponent of the growing free streaming industry. She did sign on with TIDAL, Jay-Z’s streaming service, although fans don’t seem to be flocking to the site. By pulling her music and opposing Apple Music’s free trial, Swift has a few really important points to make about what free streaming means for those who make music … including the fact that they won’t be paid for that trial period.
“I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service,” Swift starts her letter, which was posted on her Tumblr. “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. 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. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.”
She goes on to point out that Apple has the capital to pay artists for their songs during the three month trial, even if users aren’t paying for the service. She also leaves the door open to returning to the service … if Apple changes their policy.
“Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done. I hope that soon I can join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create this music. I think this could be the platform that gets it right.
But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”
Swift has a point. Although it may be hard to have too worry for Swift about how she will make ends meet without these royalties (she acknowledges herself that she doesn’t personally need the money), many others entering the industry will struggle to do so if the norm is giving away their work for free just to be heard by potential fans. It’s a struggle currently being felt across a number of creative fields, from writing to design, as the Internet makes access easy and often free. If free becomes the norm, then how will artists support themselves?
While it’s sad that Swift’s music won’t be available to users of Apple Music, it is cool seeing her stand by her fight against free streaming. And we hope that as streaming continues to evolve that the music industry can find a balance between easy access for fans and livable pay for artists.