Apple Music: Artists WILL be paid for free trial after Taylor Swift letter

It appears the world’s independent labels owe Taylor Swift a drink.

Following the pop megastar’s scathing open letter to Apple yesterday, the corporation has announced that it has changed its mind… and WILL pay artists compensation during the three-month free trial of Apple Music.

Swift wrote that she was “shocked and disappointed” by Apple‘s refusal to compensate artists, songwriters and producers for the free trial, which kicks off on June 30.

Her blog post came after a fortnight of heavy criticism of Apple from independent record companies and publishers.

It did the trick.

“I am elated and relieved. They listened to us.”

Taylor Swift

Apple’s VP of iTunes, Eddy Cue, took to Twitter last night to announce that the Cupertino giant has had a change of heart.

In three consecutive tweets, he wrote:

  • Apple will always make sure that artist are paid #iTunes #AppleMusic
  • #AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period
  • We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple

PR disaster avoided… just in time.

“I am elated and relieved,” Swift tweeted shortly after Cue’s posts.

“Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us.”

Cue subsequently told Buzzfeed that he had called Swift personally to deliver the news.

“We’ve been watching the discussion for the past week,” he said.

“We want artists to be paid for their work, and when we hear from them — from Taylor or from indie artists — we listen to them.

“Taylor’s tweet today solidified the issue for us and we decided to make a change.”

Once their celebrations have ceased, independent labels will perhaps ask why it took a multi-platinum artist to change Apple’s mind after weeks of vocal upset across the music industry.

There remains one potential obstruction to indies fully embracing Apple Music, too: Apple Connect.

Some labels have raised concerns over the rights to material posted on Connect – the channel via which Apple encourages artists to share videos, demos, lyrics and more direct with fans.

As Beggars Group wrote in its letter to partners this month:

“We have reservations about both commercial and practical aspects of the Artist Connect area.

“It is a mistake to treat these rights as royalty free, especially in the light of recent licenses with services like Soundcloud.”

For now, though, Apple’s U-turn represents a victory for artists and music rights-holders everywhere… and a clear worry for the likes of Spotify and Tidal.

And with just eight days to go till Apple Music’s launch, the company’s reputation amongst this influential music community looks like it’s back on track.

Alison Wenham, CEO of the Association of Independent Music (AIM)  and Chairperson of the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), said today:

“The decision  from Apple to pay royalties to rights owners during the proposed 3 month trial period is clearly a positive and encouraging step.

“We welcome the beginning of a fair and equitable relationship between Apple Music and the global independent music sector.”

Eddy Cue tweets

Music Business Worldwide

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