Apple changes its tune on paying royalties after Taylor Swift protests in open letter

After the singer criticised the new streaming service on her Tumblr, Apple said "we hear you Taylor" and changed its payment policy

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Apple Music has listened to Taylor Swift and changed its payment policy, just a day after the singer threatened to withhold permission for the streaming service to feature her album 1989.

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In an open letter to the technology giant – called To Apple, Love Taylor – the Bad Blood singer said she was holding back the record as she felt the three-month free trial offered to subscribers was unfair on the artists.

“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,” she wrote. “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.

“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.

“We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”

It looks like Swift was the tipping point in a week of protests from independent music labels. Her open letter cited by Apple as the company changed its stand, with senior executive Eddy Cue announcing that it would pay artists for streamed music during customers’ free trial period, adding “We hear you Taylor Swift,” in response to the singer’s Tumblr protest.

Swift tweeted in response that she was “elated and relieved”, although she is yet to confirm that she will release her album on the streaming service despite Apple’s revised policy.

The singer’s letter follows her decision last November to pull her entire catalogue from the streaming service Spotify, explaining at the time in a piece for the Wall Street Journal that, “piracy, file sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically.”

Her most recent album 1989 – which was released on October 27th 2014 – went on to become 2014’s biggest selling album in the US, hitting the number one spot in countries across the world, including the UK. But Swift made it clear in her open letter than she was one of the lucky ones.

“This is not about me,” she wrote in her recent letter. “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.

“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.”

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Apple Music is set to launch globally on 30th June with a three-month free trial for all subscribers. We’re yet to be given UK prices but in the US it will cost $9.99 (£6.30) per month for one person or $14.99 (£9.45) for families.

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