Apple Finally Agrees To Pay Royalties; Taylor Finally Gives Them “1989” [Updated]

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

Apple Finally Agrees To Pay Royalties; Taylor Finally Gives Them “1989” [Updated]
[Photo:Flickr user GabboT]

Ask, and you shall receive (if you are Taylor Swift): Apple announced Sunday that it will pay full royalties to artists, writers, and producers during the three-month trial period of its forthcoming streaming service Apple Music in the wake of Swift’s Tumblr post heard ’round the world.


The change of heart came less than a day after Swift, who pulled her entire catalog from Spotify last November, took to Tumblr to explain why she would not be releasing hit album 1989 on Apple Music. The pop queen expressed her disdain for the company’s initial policy, which dictated that it would not grant royalties during its free trial:

“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 note that many of her contemporaries feel similarly, but are afraid to speak out because they “admire and respect Apple.” She pledged her support for the company, going so far as to say that Apple Music may very well be the most equitable streaming platform:

“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.”

Eddy Cue–Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services–responded to Swift’s critique Sunday night via Twitter after speaking with her personally, according to the New York Times:


Cue told Re/code that Swift’s comments reiterated the concerns of indie labels and artists, and that Apple CEO Tim Cook was supportive of the about-face. “It’s something we worked on together,” Cue said to Re/code. “Ultimately, we both wanted to make the change.”

Fellow artists also took to Twitter in support of Swift’s call to action:

What remains unclear, however, is how much Apple will actually end up paying. According to Re/code, Cue says the company will compensate artists and labels on a per-stream basis, though rates will be lower during the free trial as compared to when people start paying for subscriptions three months down the road.

Will Swift now shake this off and make 1989 available on Apple Music? We’ll have to wait and see, though this gives us hope:

Update: On Thursday, Taylor Swift tweeted that she will be releasing 1989 on Apple Music. This is a huge get for the streaming service, which debuts on June 30:

[via New York Times]


About the author

Pavithra Mohan is an assistant editor for Fast Company Digital. Her writing has previously been featured in Gizmodo and Popular Science magazine.