Apple Music boss: ‘What Taylor Swift wrote solidified that we needed to make a change’

Apple recently agreed to pay artists during a three-month free trial following criticism from Taylor Swift

Apple’s senior vice-president of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue has spoken for the first time since Apple Music made a U-turn on their royalty scheme.

The tech giant had previously stated a policy of not paying musicians, producers, songwriters or rights holders during the three-month free trial of their upcoming streaming service. However, after much criticism, most recently from Taylor Swift, the company confirmed that it will be compensating artists during the trial.

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Having revealed the news in a series of tweets over the weekend, Cue has now told Billboard that the decision was “something we had already been discussing for the past week”, defending the company by saying: “What we’ve always tried to do is compensate artists along with making it great for bands and customers.”

Of Swift’s influence on the company’s decision, Cue added: “We’ve heard from other indie artists, but she’s a great artist herself, and it’s great when she speaks up on what her positions are.”

He continued: “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.

“We’re certainly paying for it yes. We’re all in. But we view this as: music is a part of our DNA – we talk about it a lot. We love music and we’ve always strived to have great relationships with the music community and we have a deep respect for what they do. We’re in this for the long term.”

“First thing is we’re promoting great music, so we wanted to make sure everyone had the opportunity to try it out and have experience with it so that’s what the trial period is there for. Once the trial period is over, they would [either] convert to a paying customer or they would decide that the service is not for them and so we thought that by giving them that time, people would see this revolutionary streaming service, the first worldwide live international radio station, how fans can connect with their favourite artists.”

On Saturday (June 20), a spokesperson for Taylor Swift confirmed that her album ‘1989’ would not appear on the service when it launches on June 30. Swift later wrote an open letter to Apple criticising their new streaming service, calling it “unfair” and “disappointing”.

Swift explained this decision in an open letter to Apple Music, titled ‘To Apple, Love Taylor’ published on her Tumblr page on Sunday (June 21).

“I write this to explain why I’ll be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music,” Swift began. “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.”

Swift went on to explain that though she is in a position where those three months will not affect her ability to make a living, the decision not to pay artists for three months is incredibly damaging to new and emerging acts. “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.”

Explaining that her thoughts are echoed by artists, writers and producers in her social circle “afraid to speak up publicly” due to their admiration and respect for the company, she continued: “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.”

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