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Taylor Takes the Bite out of Apple

The dust is settling as Apple climbs down from the Taylor tree- allow The Gen to surmise this modern day grim fairy tale for the music industry

Essentially, Apple generated growing discontent following its decision to offer a free trial period of three months to customers that would also be royalty free to rights holders, or at least those not already covered by existing closed doors deals with major labels.

There were rumblings from the independent label community, with Beggars Boss Martin Mills stating that he was “naturally very concerned” about the move and had yet to reach an agreement with Apple to license any of Beggar’s catalogue.

Enter Taylor Swift, who penned a well-considered and eloquent riposte to Apple following the news that she would withhold recent mega-selling album ‘1989’ from the service. This was no empty threat, lest we forget that Swift’s catalogue is still not available on Spotify.

It really is worth reading the entire ‘Dear Apple Love Taylor’ letter but within it Swift states that she finds Apple’s approach: “shocking” and “disappointing”, adding: “Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. 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”.

Apple’s Eddy Cue responded within hours, tweeting: “#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period”, followed by “We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple”.

So, the world’s largest pop star stuck her neck out for other artists, resulting in the most powerful technology company in the world making an incredibly Swift U-turn- though it has to be said that the unprecedented negative PR Apple were receiving alongside the threat of launching without artists on independent labels including Adele and Arctic Monkeys will have also been significant factors in the reversal.

Independent labels responded positively if a little tentatively to the news, with AIM Chief Executive Alison Wenham saying in a statement: “The decision from Apple to pay royalties to rights owners during the proposed 3 month trial period is clearly a positive and encouraging step and we welcome the beginning of a fair and equitable relationship between Apple Music and the global independent music sector”.

This is perhaps understandable, as the specifics of any deals covering the trial period between Apple and rights holders are yet to be announced.

Much has been written about these developments and about the new Apple Music service in general, but The Gen recommends that you kick back and cut through the white noise with ‘Apple Music: The five big problems it needs to fix before launch’ on Music Business Worldwide and this from The Guardian.

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