‘We hear you, Taylorr’

Apple bows down to singer, agrees to pay for all music during trial period of its new music-streaming service

Reuters June 22, 2015
Apple bows down to singer, agrees to pay for all music during trial period of its new music-streaming service

LOS ANGELES/ BENGALURU: Apple Inc reversed its policy and said it would now pay artists during free trials of its new Apple Music streaming service, after pop star Taylor Swift said she would hold back her latest hit album 1989 from the service.

Apple is offering users a three-month trial of its new service and had said it would not pay artists for the use of their music during that time. Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue announced the change of heart through Twitter. “We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple,” Cue tweeted.

After the backflip from Apple, Swift turned to Twitter to thank both Apple and her supporters, telling her 59 million Twitter followers, “I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us.”

The 25-year-old musician had said in a Tumblr post on Sunday that she would hold back her album as she found Apple’s policy of not paying artists during free trial shocking and disappointing, and that it would hurt young artists just starting out.

Swift has fought with music-streaming services before. She pulled her entire catalog of music from online-streaming platform Spotify last November and refused to offer 1989 on streaming services, saying the business had shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically.

The move, while risky, paid off for the 25-year-old singer as 1989 became the biggest debut of 2014. It has sold more than 4.9 million albums in the US since its October release. Swift’s back catalog remains available on streaming services that require a paid subscription, her label Big Machine Group said.

She has, however, supported Apple’s drive to supplant advertising-based free streaming services with one funded by user subscriptions. An Apple spokesman confirmed Cue’s tweets and that the company would pay artists during the three-month trial period.

Swift’s label had previously announced that 1989 would not be offered on Apple Music, which will launch at the end of June and offer subscribers a large catalog of songs for a subscription fee of $10 a month. Representatives for Apple had not responded to requests for comment.

Apple Music, unveiled earlier this month, will not offer a free, ad-supported on-demand streaming service, such as Spotify or Pandora. The music industry has supported Apple bringing its vast music library to paid streaming, and the company said it will pay 70 per cent of the music subscription revenue to music owners.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2015.

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