Taylor Swift is more powerful than we could have imagined.
Sunday, Swift penned an open letter to Apple, condemning the Cupertino company’s decision not to pay artists royalties for music streamed during Apple Music’s 3-month free trial. She ended the letter with a firm charge for Apple’s decision-makers: “Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”
With 60m Twitter followers and 71m Facebook fans, Taylor’s words are usually heeded, and as Spotify found out last year, her threats are very real. It is surely with this in mind that Apple sent Eddy Cue into the Twittersphere to announce the reversal of their much maligned policy:
#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period
— Eddy Cue (@cue) June 22, 2015
Like we said, Taylor Swift is more powerful than we ever could have imagined. But Apple’s quick about-face isn’t that surprising. As Tim Ingham points out over at Music Business Worldwide, “Apple sells a lot of nice phones to nice people who like nice Apple to be nice,” and when America’s sweetheart cries foul, it threatens that nice-ness. Apple’s good public image is a cornerstone of its success, and the company’s got the cash in the bank to keep everyone happy — including Taylor and the independents.
Apple’s willingness to compensate artists and keep everyone sated and seated at the table not only shows how badly Apple wants into the streaming game, but sets a precedent for the type of influence artists (though perhaps only mega-artists) can have over the industry in which they operate.
Our next podcast will go live the day before Apple Music’s US launch. The subject of this week’s episode? Apple Music, and what the service’s launch means for the industry and the future of streaming. We’ll have great insight from Josh Friedlander of the RIAA, Russ Crupnick of MusicWatch, Dick Huey of Toolshed, artist manager Emily White, and venture capitalist and co-founder of Apple’s Computer Music Group, David Pakman.