Rapper Drake seems to be all aboard Apple’s latest project, having performed alongside protege The Weeknd at the official unveiling of Apple Music. However, not all A-List stars are satisfied with the new streaming service, which claims to “really move the needle for fans and artists.”
In order to gain access to the “revolutionary” platform that runs as an app for Apple gadgets and Android smartphones, labels have been asked to contribute the work of the artists for three months without pay so users will have a free trial.
British firms quickly voiced concerns and UK Music’s chairman said the demand could “literally put people out of business”.
Music industry darling Taylor Swift, who has been outspoken about streaming in the past, wrote an open letter to Apple and slammed its conditions in a note entitled “To Apple, Love Taylor”.
She opened by saying that she intends to hold back her album 1989 from the platform, but softened the blow by saying how much she respects the firm as a partner and distribution channel for selling music.
“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. 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,” she wrote.
Swift noted that it’s not about her, highlighting that with five albums released she’s able to support herself, her band, crew and management by live shows alone.
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Continuing, she said: “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.
“These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.”
The letter detailed that she was well aware the ultimate goal was paid streaming and called it “beautiful progress”, but called out the firm’s profits and said its success means it is able to pay the artists, writers and producers.
“Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. 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.”
Interestingly, and rather unexpectedly, Apple has responded to the letter. Specifically, it was senior VP of internet software and services Eddy Cue who replied to Swift.
He tweeted: “Apple will always make sure that artist are paid #iTunes #AppleMusic” and followed up with “#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period”.
Of course, bad press is the last thing the Apple will want ahead of its 30 June launch and the well-timed letter and sheer omnipotence of Swift, who has a Twitter following of almost 60 million, appeared to be too much for the company to ignore.
We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple
— Eddy Cue (@cue) June 22, 2015
I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) June 22, 2015
Following the unveiling of Apple Music, Spotify released new numbers to show it has 75 million active users and 20 million paying subscribers, which is up from 40 million and 10 million respectively in May 2014.