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Taylor Swift shames Apple Music into paying artists during free trial

22 June 2015, 09:19 | Written by Laurence Day

After penning an open letter to Apple this weekend, less than a fortnight ahead of their marquee streaming service Apple Music launching (30 June), the entertainment giant has reneged on its plans to not pay artists during the free three-month trial.

Initially it was reported that Apple Music would pay artists a full 0% on royalties during the obligatory free three-month intro period to the service, while paying 58% during paid subscriptions. The latter was later changed to 70%, matching Spotify's rates, but the former part of the plan remained. As such, the last week or so has been fraught with pull-outs, snubs, and straight-up nuh-uhs from labels, especially independents - those predicted to suffer most.

Now, after Taylor Swift confirmed she'd be pulling her music from Apple Music, and subsequently putting an open letter to Apple, the company has changed its tune, and will pay artists the full 70% during the free trial. Although we shouldn't devalue the efforts of scores of indies and smaller artists either, it seems as if the pop giant has had the loudest voice in the matter.

Swift's letter can be read in full here; there's an excerpt below:

"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."

In response, Apple exec Eddy Cue said:

"We've been hearing a lot of concern from indie artists about not getting paid during the three-month trial period, which was never our intent. We never looked at it as not paying them.
We had originally negotiated these deals based on paying them a higher royalty rate on an ongoing basis to compensate for this brief time. But when I woke up this morning and saw what Taylor had written, it really solidified that we needed to make a change. And so that's why we decided we will now pay artists during the trial period and we'll also keep the royalty rate at the higher rate.

There's a worthwhile read about the problems with Apple Music (and the complicated world of rights management) here.

It's unknown whether this means that Swift will actually sign up to the streaming service regardless - she's famously not fond of the business model as a whole, snubbing streaming giant Spotify. Is there still Bad Blood? Or will it be a Love Story?

One thing's for certain, Swift's used her powers for good once more, and Everything Has Changed.

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