Apple Changes Royalty Plan Following Taylor Swift’s Open Letter: Will Pay Labels During Free Trial

Whether you’re an artists working in pop, country, rock, rap, hip-hop, black metal, doom, grindcore, folk instrumentalism, post-modern opera, or some obscure combination of everything in between, everyone in music owes Taylor Swift a bit of thanks for speaking up against Apple’s new royalty plan for the launch of Apple Music over the weekend. Her open letter, which called the plan to not pay artists during the company’s three-month trial launch ‘disappointing,’ went viral just jours before senior vice president of internet services and software Eddy Cue tweeted that Apple would, in fact, pay artists during the 90-day period. 

In an interview with Billboard, Cue elaborated that it was Swift’s letter that turned him around on the issue. “When I woke up this morning and saw what Taylor had written, it really solidified that we needed a change. And so that’s why we decide we will now pay artists during the trial period.”

Everyone expected the tech giant to respond to Swift’s letter, but the seemingly immediate change of policy came as a surprise to many, including Swift herself. “I am elated and relieved,” she tweeted after the new broke. “Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us.”

Some in the music community, while happy about the news, were concerned that it took an artist as big as Swift to complain before action was taken. As you may recall, we ran a story early last week that shared the concerns from numerous people in the indie music community. Those same concerns were shared on countless blogs and news outlets, but it seems Apple didn’t think to respond until Taylor Swift made it a point to get involved. To his credit, Cue told Billboard he had heard “concern from a lot of artists” before hearing from Swift. You can draw your own conclusions as to whether or not that had the same impact.

Apple will be eating the cost of the royalty payout, as the company intends to not charge any consumer for using the service during its first 90-days of existence.  That will no doubt be a big bill to pay, but considering the company is expected to be valued at $1 trillion by 2016 it seems like a tab they will be able to cover.

Apple Music is set to launch on June 30, and we are planning to run an editorial with our initial impressions not long after. For now, spread the word of the new royalty plan so artists make a it a point to claim their Apple Music Connect profile as soon as possible.

James Shotwell is the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also a professional entertainment critic, covering both film and music, as well as the co-founder of Antique Records. Feel free to tell him you love or hate the article above by connecting with him on Twitter. Bonus points if you introduce yourself by sharing your favorite Simpsons character.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.