Apple changes tune following Taylor Swift criticism, will now pay artists during free Apple Music trial


Following Taylor Swift’s public criticism of Apple’s decision not to pay artists and labels for plays during Apple Music’s three-month free trial period, Eddy Cue took to Twitter to announce a swift policy change. The executive assured Swift that music producers will now be paid for every play on the Apple Music service, including those that are part of a user’s free trial.

Swift had cited the original policy as the reason that her most recent album, 1989, would leave a blank space in her discography on Apple Music. She said that the rule was harmful not just to big-name artists, but especially to indie musicians who can’t rely on income from touring to make a living.

Thankfully it appears the situation didn’t lead to bad blood between Swift and Apple, and instead prompted the company to make a much-needed change to benefit all artists and producers.

Apple Music will launch with iOS 8.4 later this month.

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  1. samuelsnay - 8 years ago

    I’m glad they made the switch. I just wish it was before Swift said something. The last thing her massive ego needs is to think she brought the Cupertino giant to its knees.

    • Stephen Hall - 8 years ago

      She kind of did a little bit

      • jimr450 - 8 years ago

        Convincing someone of an idea being bad or good and then they making the change of their own will is not “bringing them to their knees”.

    • Casey Christian - 8 years ago

      Well, here’s the thing … she did.

      Direct from the Apple’s mouth: 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 to make a change. And so that’s why we decide we will now pay artists during the trial period.” That makes it pretty clear cut.

      While I’m not a huge fan of her music, I think she’s an incredibly smart business person and I agree with the points she made. Love her or hate her, there’s no denying it takes courage to stand up and publicly speak your mind the way she did.

      • jimr450 - 8 years ago

        She didn’t. She simply made a good point and they also want to avoid bad press. Convincing someone of an idea being bad or good and then they making the change of their own free will is not “bringing them to their knees”. Improper metaphor here. The rest is fine.

      • o0smoothies0o - 8 years ago

        Taylor swift a business person? You’ve lost it. She has people that actually do know about business advise her on what is best.

    • charismatron - 8 years ago

      I’m not a huge fan of Taylor Swift’s, but I can appreciate her accomplishments as an artist and business person.

      What evidence is there of Taylor Swift having a massive ego? Just curious . . .

      • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 8 years ago

        It’s not an issue of ego, it’s the issue that artists and record labels rely on licensing fees to keep the doors open. That’s what they run their businesses on. While the top 1% have money, the rest of the 99% don’t. These people rely on every penny. It’s common knowledge that most albums end up losing money and only a small portion actually make a profit. Even though Taylor has money, it’s because of revenue from record sales, fees from various streaming services, radio play, concert tickets, endorsements, etc. etc. etc. To deny someone licensing fees is just stupid. The BIG issue Apple faces now, is how they are going to allow these unsigned artists to post music, they have to be really carefull because a lot of unsigned artists may not have all of their legal contracts signed and that will pose a problem for Apple. If someone uploads content that includes samples of another recording or other musicians involved and they don’t have all of the necessary legal contracts/legal representation, then both Apple and the party that uploads the content can be sued for copyright infringement. Since it’s a fee-based service, the fines are much more severe than a YouTube type infringement where there is no money involved. Apple really needs to only allow people with legal representation and all of the required legal contracts in place before they allow content to be uploaded.

        But in the mean time, they needed to change their stance and if it wasn’t Taylor Swift, it would have been another famous celebrity artist that got them to change. She just spoke up first and since she’s famous, that’s what got Eddy Cue to change his mind. Cue should have known better to begin with so they wouldn’t have had this issue in the first place. AFAIC, Eddy Cue needs to go, he’s an idiot. He should have known better. How many millions of dollars worth of brand reputation was affected by Cue’s original boneheaded move?

    • AeronPeryton - 8 years ago

      There was definitely more to this than Swift complaining on Twitter. Apple just realized that responding directly to her will get the word out to the most people at once. Apple probably needed to do this to secure a number of other artists, The Beetles perhaps? I know there was a list somewhere of artists and groups that would not be on board at launch. This change may have part of a deal to swing them.

      However, Swift will probably go to her grave thinking it was all due to her glorious perseverance and self-centered selflessness. Who cares.

    • Yet she did. And if you stopped idealizing Apple for a moment you would realise it’s a good thing. Next time Apple will come out with something new they will think twice about the product/service they provide before charging premium.

      Last thing we need is Apple to become the next EA or Microsoft thinking they can get away with everything.

      • I love Apple stuff, but you need to take a leaf out of your own book and stop idealising Apple. Saying things like “last thing we need is Apple to become the next EA or Microsoft thinking they can get away with everything” when Apple really do get away with everything is crazy :)

      • bpbatch - 8 years ago

        The word is, “idolize,” folks.

      • bpbatch:

        “idealize” – US English “idealise” – British English

        If you idealize something or someone, you think of them, or represent them to other people, as being perfect or much better than they really are.

        “idolize” – US English “idolise” – British English

        Admire, revere, or love greatly or excessively

        As it happens, both words can be used interchangeably here (fortunately hah!) , so either you are correct and we are idiots, or you are a grammar nazi.

        I’ll call it a draw :)

      • bpbatch - 8 years ago

        If my post got you to pull out a dictionary, do research, and reflect with passion and thought, I feel my day is complete. :)

      • It certainly did bpbatch – and I thank you for it :)

    • irl stine (@kevinthr) - 8 years ago

      why don’t you want her to think that?

  2. It’s not like apple could not afford to pay them, this is at least progress.

    • AeronPeryton - 8 years ago

      Apple can afford to pay off the debt of several small countries. But spending their money that way would be completely irresponsible and the end of Apple.

      “You don’t think I made all that money writing checks, do you?” – Bill Gates on The Simpsons

  3. joe smith (@joe815smith) - 8 years ago

    $5 bucks says Taylor welches on her part of the bargain and doesn’t put 1989 on Apple Music now.

    • irelandjnr - 8 years ago

      $100 bucks says you’re wrong.

    • standardpull - 8 years ago

      I am sure 1987 will be there on day one. Swift is not a dishonorable liar. She may have a boatload of cash, but she certainly would uphold her own principles.

      • o0smoothies0o - 8 years ago

        It’s 1989 so it’s 100% likely that 1987 won’t make it 😂

  4. Edward Martin - 8 years ago

    Now to see if Taylor Swift changes her tune, I bet she takes the road of taking a stand anyway for the good of the artists.

  5. Michael Golde - 8 years ago

    Brilliant move by Apple! I think this will engender goodwill not only from artists but also from fans.

    • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 8 years ago

      But there was damage that was done. remember, people remember the bad things about a company before they remember the good things. The original bonehead move by Eddy Cue will be remembered far longer by more people than his change in stance on the issue. Apple should have known better and to not make such a simple mistake in the first place. Remember, Cue has tons of money and he is paid a lot of money to do his job and as well as Cook and the rest of the people that make business decisions. They are highly paid to make sure they don’t damage Apple’s reputation.

      • Tim Clayton - 8 years ago

        I doubt that many people will ever know any of this happened, be it Apple’s initial choice to not pay artists, taylor swift’s open letter, or Apple’s reversal of their decision.

        The only people who will remember this and be outraged about it, are the same people who get outraged any time Apple does anything.

      • o0smoothies0o - 8 years ago

        Mature, mentally proficient people, forget the bad things and move on with life, enjoying the good things. Acknowledging, and correcting a mistake and making it right is what should be remembered.

        As an aside, it could have been a crazy brilliant marketing ploy. Cause an uprising which brings the free marketing of apple music to numerous news outlets and then wait a day or two and cause the uproar again, showing positivity and generosity. Granted, I highly doubt they did that.

  6. rettun1 - 8 years ago

    I like this move, and I think it’s the right move. I wonder whether they are paying the artists in full, or if Apple pays out, say, half of what the artists would get otherwise.

    • As an Apple shareholder, I think this move is crap. It won’t affect the bottom line appreciably in the long term, but it’s still money that Apple shouldn’t need to spend. If the artists and producers are invested in a streaming future, and going to collect millions from this venture, they should be taking some of weight of the promotional period.

      • charismatron - 8 years ago

        Artists should get paid for their work like you get paid for yours. That this is even a debate is stupefyingly ridiculous. Artists shouldn’t be expected to increase the value of a commercial service without getting paid.
        Why would someone come and paint your house (increasing its value) for free, on the hopes that someone sees their work and calls them? That’s bad business. What Apple’s doing is good for everyone’s business.

        Artists are artists with or without corporate streaming services, their invested in their craft–so is Apple. Musicians exist without streaming services and not the other way around. Like anyone else, artists should be paid for their work. Apple apparently agrees with them (finally). If anyone doesn’t like Apple’s choices, they can get out of Apple. They do a lot of other things investors don’t see an ROI on, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

        Once personal interest stops automatically trumping those of others, Apple’s decision becomes easier to understand.

      • Casey Christian - 8 years ago

        I don’t think it’s a crap move at all. In fact, I think it’s a pretty smart move. Were they possibly outmaneuvered by Swift? Maybe. But that’s not what matters. In the long run, for the tiny drop in the bucket that paying royalties for 90 days amounts to compared to what they’ve got in the bank, Apple is buying an immense amount of good will from the artists and the industry.

        This is now GREAT marketing for them. They’ve positioned themselves as the company that wants to help artists and pay them fairly. By listening to Taylor Swift and publicly giving her credit for their change of heart, they’ve also made huge inroads with her massive and dedicated fanbase. She’s already tweeting about this and being very gracious towards Apple. Her fans will be much more likely to make the switch from Spotify or another service to Apple Music now. Other artists who are VERY pleased with this change are also likely to encourage their fans to sign up for Apple Music as well. Again, with the support of the artists … you get the support of the fans. That’s good business because they’re the ones spending the money.

        Another thing that Taylor Swift brings to the table is massive media exposure. Before all this broke, many of my non-tech friends had never even heard of Apple Music; now they have. And, if she lives up to her end of the bargain and allows 1989 to stream, they’ll have the biggest album of the last year that no other service can touch.

        This is really a win/win if you ask me.

      • Ah the lesser spotted Apple shareholder. Well known in the wild for having abandoned all sense of decency in the pursuit of the almighty dollar ;)

      • irelandjnr - 8 years ago

        You’re a shareholder. Shareholders often miss the big picture. Apple wants to make Apple Music successful. Paying artists even during the free trial ensures artists have no excuse not to jump on boards—which is great for the catalogue on offer—and even better for what you get during the free trial which encourages users to join. This could well be the move that makes Apple Music a success.

      • 89p13 - 8 years ago

        As another Apple shareholder – I think that charismatron summed it up nicely. You want to get paid for your efforts – that’s the American Way (or, at least it was).

        IMO – This is only fair to everyone involved in the making of the music. Apple should NOT get a free ride just because they are the 900 pound gorilla.

        You invested your money in Apple stock – don’t you want to see your investment pay you back? what’s the difference between you and the artists / people involved in making that music? They are both investments – and the investors want a return on that investment.

        Apple did the right thing!

      • graphicmac - 8 years ago

        @Charismatron – “Musicians exist without streaming services and not the other way around.”

        You’re a wide-eyed fool. Have you seen the sales figures for music? I have. Musicians are being raped by the record labels, and the sales numbers are plummeting anyway. Streaming music is the only thing keeping people from going back to pirating the music—which by the way, has gotten much, much easier in the last few years compared to the Napster era.

        Apple is the one taking all the financial risk in this game. These indie musicians were unheard of, and weren’t making shit for money anyway, so they had nothing to lose and everything to gain by Apple succeeding. Boo-freaking-hoo that Apple should not lose some money while trying to give exposure to these indie artists while getting you/me hooked on their music service where they will make their money in the long term.

      • charismatron - 8 years ago

        I don’t mind being a wide-eyed fool, so thanks for the compliment.
        Apple also agrees with me, which is also a compliment.

        It’s going to be a goo day!

      • chrisl84 - 8 years ago

        Aren’t you the one who lectured all of us who said Apple should pay up as not knowing how to run a business…..yeah, talk about egg on the face. I can direct you to some freshman business courses if you need to brush up

  7. Christian - 8 years ago

    “would leave a blank space in her discography”

    “didn’t lead to bad blood between Swift and Apple”

    …*slow clap*

  8. It seemed like a dick move considering Apple is one of the wealthiest companies in the world. Almost seems like they wanted to start this service with the bare minimum of risk, shifting the costs onto the artists, especially if the service doesn’t take off. Glad they changed their mind, but I probably still won’t sign up for it.

  9. rogifan - 8 years ago

    So when does Eddy Cue get a demotion for incompetence?

    • Jörg Wißemann - 8 years ago

      You don’t get it, do you? This all is nothing but a great marketing campaign. In the end it will be a win win situation for Apple and artists.

  10. rdemsick - 8 years ago

    A SWIFT Policy Change!! Haha love it

  11. Tim Budd - 8 years ago

    Bravo Apple! You did the right thing! When all else fails, use common sense. Nice job!

    Taylor, there is only one song you have done that I like ( Shake if off) but everyone seems to love you and respect you. I give you big props for speaking up for the yourself and the indie artists of the world!

    This discontent had been going around since the new service was first announced. You were not the first and you would have not been the last. You just happen to be the biggest name to voice your opinion.

    Well done! Crisis averted!

  12. charismatron - 8 years ago

    Apple has made the right decision.

    They have always proclaimed their love for music, and it’s music (vis a vis iPod and iTunes) which laid the foundation for the Apple fortress we know today. To then turn and not pay artists for their work in order to elevate Apple’s own streaming service?

    Doesn’t make an ounce of sense. Good for T.S.–and good for Apple–for doing the right thing by artists and musicians big and small alike.

  13. truth42 - 8 years ago

    Very well done Apple.

  14. kmattlin - 8 years ago

    It’s not EGO, it’s PRINCIPLES AND BELIEFS. Apple was also principled enough to listen and made a decision to change the original promo plan. CONGRATS TO ALL ON THIS.(If only we could get CONGRESS to think the same way and listen..

  15. spacedr - 8 years ago

    Apple did the right thing by making the switch, however I hope Apple foresees a feature where users can select to block certain “artists” as to ensure that their streams are not spoiled with things they do not want to stumble upon . . .

  16. Ms Greedy Taylor Swift had her way, apparently. Fair enough, but it’s our choice not to listen to her music as well.

    • irelandjnr - 8 years ago

      Greedy!? It’s her fucking music!

      • Yup! Incredible how crazy some folk are by thinking that an artist is somehow being greedy by not wanting to give up some of their hard earned cash to make the richest company in the world even richer.

        Apple need the artists and the artists need Apple – it’s as simple as that.

      • bpbatch - 8 years ago

        Some “folks,” AT. Plural. “Hard-earned;” don’t forget the hyphen. And know the difference between a hyphen and the dash. Good Twitter following, BTW—you have a lot of intelligent commentary! :)

  17. borntofeel - 8 years ago

    Great move. All anti Apple media jumped at this news and now Apple is coming out of it in a positive light. Free advertising for their new music platform.

  18. kmattlin - 8 years ago

    It’s not EGO, it’s PRINCIPLES AND BELIEFS. Apple was also principled enough to listen and made a decision to change the original promo plan. CONGRATS TO ALL ON THIS.(If only we could get CONGRESS to think the same way and listen..)

  19. Rasmussen (@Twitboydk) - 8 years ago

    This girl could be in the next X-Men movie. She has amazing powers :-D

  20. Bert van Horck - 8 years ago

    Except the world is not as it seems? Taylor Swift complains about Apple’s stance towards artists, but she does exactly the same towards the concert photographers….

  21. graphicmac - 8 years ago

    Anybody beside me think this was all a little too neat and clean? Swift says how much she loves Apple, makes no threats of removing all her music; but very, very nicely suggests that Apple should pay the artists during the trial period. As a reward, she’s willing to offer up the possibility of her popular album being streamed (she didn’t take it away, Apple never had it, if I read the back story correctly).

    This all happens on the weekend. Everybody is all polite about it. Everybody comes out ahead.

    Nahhh. This is all a little to neat for me to believe. I think Apple had every intention on doing this, and found a way to get the artists in their corner, and a clever PR way to do it.

    • minieggseater - 8 years ago

      You beat me to it. Even if it wasn’t pre-arranged I think it was a calculated risk for Apple to get the new service into the headlines of the non specialist (Tech and Music) press and get into national and international news

  22. PMZanetti - 8 years ago

    Why do people keep citing Apple as the wealthiest company in the world, therefor they should do this?
    Do you really think that’s how business works?
    No, Apple had it right the first time, but a quick calculation shows that it can afford to do this…if they don’t convert a ton of trial users into paid, Apple Music won’t be around for the Taylor Swifts to profit from.

  23. danhauge - 8 years ago

    Apple made the right decision for artists, but also a business decision. Part of Apple’s brand is their image as a ‘good’ company, one that values artists. Whether that is silly in reality doesn’t really matter, as Apple’s image is obviously something they find valuable. Swift knew that, and used it for leverage in a negotiation. This is all pure business, it’s not really about ethics or egos.

  24. LM - 8 years ago

    This is the lamest publicity stunt I’ve ever witnessed. Apple “seeing the light” because Taylor Swift wrote a letter…Blahahahaha!!! Apple concocted this sham with the pop princess because her ego knows no bounds and Apple needs to seem humble. Win Win…for everyone.

  25. Charlypollo - 8 years ago

    There we go. Everyone throwing sh*t at the people that criticized the artists will have to go back to their caves.

  26. Michael Weisberg - 8 years ago

    She is nothing more than a child throwing a fit. She lives in the top 1% of the 1% and feels like she cannot live without getting royalties during the trail period? Cry me a fucking river. She makes enough money in one week to cover the costs of every indie artist during those 3 month trial periods.

    All she did is use social media, her ungodly massive ego, and her teenage audience to get someone to change their mind.

  27. F&%King hypocrite…! That is all there is too it…! Read this and you will understand, she does exactly the same but FOREVER, and then screams at apple for 3 months of losing money…!!!

  28. dipaguco - 8 years ago

    Does anyone else not think this was an elaborate publicity stunt contrived by Apple to promote Apple Music? Swift gets press and fan loyalty intensifies, while Apple gets attention to their new service – genius.

  29. timcrook - 8 years ago


    “I’m not on Spotify, to hear my album you’ll have to pay, it costs 13.99. Sold a million in a few days. My God I’m so rich, some people say I’m a greedy bitch.”


  30. Roger Lo - 8 years ago

    It seems not enough people noticed that Apple offered to pay MORE than the industry average for streaming fees after the trial period was over. The standard contract was a one-month free trial subscription where the artists are paid nothing. If Apple had gone for the standard contract where they would offer only a single month of no royalties, nobody would have said anything.

    Apple wanted a longer trial period and was willing to pay for it, hence the 1.5% additional payments per month. Since nobody had ever done a 3-month trial, the outcry probably took them by surprise since they figured they were compensating artists adequately with the higher rate. Apple’s theory is that the longer trial will hook the user more and lead to a higher number of subscriptions. One month isn’t that long for a person to develop a habit of listening, but three might. So in the long run, both Apple and the artists would benefit. As businessmen, they tend to think long term. The short term outcry probably didn’t occur to them as they figured artists would jump at the chance for higher royalties.

    Now Apple is paying royalties not only for a time where Apple is losing money, but they are still paying the higher fee afterwards. Whether this leads to higher subscriptions or not will determine whether the 3-month trial is a success. Then it will be money well spent. If it doesn’t lead to anything higher, then Apple will be out a lot of money.

    For those who use the analogy of working for three months with no pay, think of it this way. The artists don’t have to lift a finger during those three months, so they aren’t actually working for free. They are doing nothing for free. If they are working at other things, those actions generate future revenue but have zero impact on a service streaming their past or current work. It’s more analogous to an author who wrote a book and had a publisher give out free samples in order to drum up publicity and future sales. While the author may be writing a new book, the old one is done. Authors go on book tours to drum up sales. Are they paid for going on tour? No. In that case, authors are actually doing more work in hope the publicity will gain future sales. The artists don’t have to do anything at all above and beyond what they would have done if Apple Music never existed. So they want their music advertised AND get paid for it, too. I consider it advertising since the listeners don’t get to keep the music.

    Some will argue that they are losing download sales from the iTunes store. Maybe. There’s no way to quantify that, though. It’s quite possible they may INCREASE sales in the iTunes sales as the analogy of giving out free samples to encourage sales may occur. I’m guessing increases or decreases will depend on the quality of the music. The good ones will get more sales while the not-so-good will get fewer sales.

  31. Thomas Massengale - 8 years ago

    How could it possibly be that nobody at Apple during all the planning of Apple Music said, “Hey wait a minute. We’re asking artists to give their work for free for three months to build us, Apple, a new business.” It really doesn’t speak well of the company that this greedy cockamamie idea got as far as it did, and that it took a singer to stop them in their tracks. They really had no choice but to switch direction as their position was indefensible.

  32. Chris J DiEugenio - 8 years ago

    Steve wouldnt have buckled to the demands of a tween star. He would have laughed it off and continued making billions while providing new revenue streams to artists longer term.