Credit: @Taylorswift/Instagram

Taylor Swift takes on Apple over free streaming - and wins

The world's biggest popstar knows how to make the world's biggest company pay.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 23 Sep 2015

What Taylor Swift wants, Taylor Swift gets. The world’s biggest popstar pulled her latest album, 1989, from Apple’s new streaming service in protest at it not paying artists royalties for its free, three-month trials. Just 17 hours later the world’s biggest company called Swift begging her to stay, stay, stay.

‘I find it to be shocking, disappointing and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company,’ she wrote in a Tumblr post laden with ‘respect’ and admiration for the tech giant and its ‘truly ingenious minds’.

Aware that as one of the world’s wealthiest artists she doesn’t exactly need the money, she said it was ‘not about me,’ nor was it ‘the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child,’ but ‘about the new artist or band that has just released their first single’ and ‘the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut.’

‘We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation,’ she finished.

Clearly her words left more than few bulletholes, as Apple’s vice president took to Twitter to capitulate.

He also did the media rounds, telling Billboard, ‘When I woke up this morning and saw what Taylor had written, it really solidified that we needed to make a change.’

Cue said he had made the decision with Apple CEO Tim Cook and then called Swift directly on her tour in Amsterdam. ‘We have a long relationship with Taylor, so I wanted her to hear directly from us.’

Swift, for her part, was apparently, ‘thrilled and very thankful and excited.’ She hasn’t actually officially confirmed whether she’s putting 1989 back on Apple Music, but given her victory tweet it would seem churlish not to.

Apple had said it will pay artists 71.5% of revenues in the US and an average of 73% in the rest of the world, compared to rival streaming service Spotify’s 70%. But indie labels, including Adele and Arctic Monkeys’, slammed the offer last week, saying going three months unpaid would ‘literally put some people out of business’.

Swift’s intervention comes after she pulled her entire back catalogue from Spotify last year. That was a unilateral action, helping 1989 shift an unprecedented 4.9 million copies in the US alone, in an age where music just doesn’t really sell anymore. This time she made sure it wasn’t just for her – while most definitely making it The Story of Taylor Swift.

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