Before New York’s Antitrust Bureau Chief Eric Stock began investigating Apple’s new music streaming service “Apple Music” there was a DOJ and European investigation into Apple upcoming service that began with an unidentified complaint. A report from Bloomberg in April set the tone by stating that Taylor Swift and others were in talks with Apple to bring exclusive content to Apple’s new music service. Then last week we posted a report titled “Is the Investigation into Apple Music now Turning to Taylor Swift?” – and since that time, Taylor Swift and her label have gone into high gear distancing themselves from Apple. First the label made a loud announcement on Friday that there wasn’t going to be a deal with Apple for Taylor’s “1989” album, period. Today, Taylor Swift has weighed in on the matter with a public announcement.
Taylor Swift writes today, Sunday June 21, 2015:
“I write this to explain why I’ll be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music. I feel this deserves an explanation because Apple has been and will continue to be one of my best partners in selling music and creating ways for me to connect with my fans. I respect the company and the truly ingenious minds that have created a legacy based on innovation and pushing the right boundaries.
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.
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.
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.
I realize that Apple is working towards a goal of paid streaming. I think that is beautiful progress. We know how astronomically successful Apple has been and we know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the 3 month trial period… even if it is free for the fans trying it out.
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.”
Taylor has made her case and the ball is now in Apple’s court.
But here’s the confusing aspect to Taylor’s letter. She begins her letter to Apple by stating, “I write this to explain why I’ll be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music.”
Are we now to believe that the “1989” Album was going to be an exclusive with Apple but due to Apple Music’s offer of streaming music for free for three months that she’s changed her mind?
On Friday, the context was clearly about her album not coming to Apple Music. Today, it was supposed to be about Taylor further explaining that decision as she begins her letter. Somewhere along the line, it turned into taking a new direction all together.
On that count, I think Taylor is confused and that may lose her some Apple fans by dragging this out in public as she did today. I think it goes back to the investigations into Taylor’s relationship with Apple and her fear of being dragged into that. And I also think Taylor was trying to repair a PR problem growing in the Apple community. Here’s an example. With Friday’s news of Taylor’s new Album not coming to Apple Music, MacDailyNews wrote the following:
“With her entire back catalog available on multiple streaming services, Swift comes off looking significantly more greedy than principled here. That, or all of her prior work isn’t ‘art,’ as she seems to have no issues with ‘devaluing’ her life’s work by plopping it on Spotify. In short, Taylor, pull yourwhole catalog from all streaming services or STFU. You can’t have it both ways without sacrificing your integrity.”
In the end, growing a conscience is nice window dressing, but I think that Taylor fumbled the ball by her efforts of trying to look like the industry hero. I don’t really buy into it – but it’s great PR on her part that just might work to repair Friday’s PR damage. Will it work? Only time will tell.