“We don’t ask you for free iPhones”
Taylor Swift targeted Apple in a powerful open letter on Sunday, shaming the company’s new streaming music service over a free trial period offered to users and reigniting the conversation about fair compensation for musicians in the digital age.
Swift announced on Tumblr that she will withhold her album 1989 from Apple Music—a paid-only service that launches on June 30—despite her respect for how the company is “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.
The pop star has become a voice for young artists seeking fair compensation after her high-profile bout with Spotify, from which she pulled her music last November. In her open letter to Apple, Swift echoed her disapproval of music services that do not pay their artists:
“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.
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.