Modern technology gives us many things.

The Taylor Swift letter that made Apple backflip on its Apple Music policy


Taylor Swift’s recent hit song is called “Shake it Up” and that’s exactly what she did when she penned a brave open letter that made Apple change part of its upcoming Apple Music streaming service before it even began.

What Swift found troubling was the fact that Apple wouldn’t be paying artists during its lengthy three-month free trial period.

Free trials for other music services including Spotify only last for one month.

But Apple’s decision to withhold any royalties from artists for the full three-month period spurred Swift to write an open letter to Apple.

Swift’s letter had an immediate effect and it wasn’t long before Apple senior executive Eddy Cue announced the company would be backflipping on the three-month hold-out to musicians.

He sent out a series of tweets stating artists would be paid – even during the free three-month period.

Here’s what Taylor Swift wrote:

I write this to explain why I’ll be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music. I feel this deserves an explanation because Apple has been and will continue to be one of my best partners in selling music and creating ways for me to connect with my fans. I respect the company and the truly ingenious minds that have created a legacy based on innovation and 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.

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.

These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.

I realize that Apple is working towards a goal of paid streaming. I think that is beautiful progress. We know how astronomically successful Apple has been and we know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the 3 month trial period… even if it is free for the fans trying it out.

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.

Swift is no stranger when it comes on to standing up for a musician’s right to get paid.

Late last year she withdrew all of her music from Spotify because she felt the streaming model didn’t properly compensate her in the same way that selling her albums digitally on iTunes would.

In her letter she mentioned her latest album wouldn’t be on Apple Music either and was hopeful that the company could come up with a streaming model that was fair to the people who created the music.

Apple is one of the world’s richest companies and it didn’t get that way by giving away products for free.

Swift pointed out that “we don’t ask you for free iPhones” and had gained worldwide support for her stance to support struggling musicians who are trying to earn a living with their talents.

One wonders if Apple would have volunteered to pay artists during that three-month period if Taylor Swift hadn’t courageously spoken up.