Taylor Swift might be a Republican and, with a net worth of $200 million, she’s definitely a one-percenter. But she also turns out to have a heart. On Sunday, Swift used her massive clout on behalf of her fellow songwriters and recording artists to score a major victory against Apple.
It all started when Swift heard Apple plans on giving away free three-month trial subscriptions for their music streaming service. That would have been fine, had Apple not also decided to defray costs by not paying royalties during the same time period. So Swift took to Tumblr and wrote Apple a letter that was sweetly worded, but still managed to pack quite a wallop.
Oh, and Swift also pulled all the songs from her hit 1989 album from their Apple’s catalog. Ouch.
Swift opened her letter in a conciliatory fashion, insisting that she loves Apple and the generosity, innovation and creativity she associates with their brand because she’s never worked at Foxconn and can easily afford Apple’s pricey products.
Apple has been and will continue to be one of my best partners in selling music and creating ways for me to connect with my fans. I respect the company and the truly ingenious minds that have created a legacy based on innovation and pushing the right boundaries.
Swift also explains that she’s not pulling this as a prima donna power play for herself, but for all the recording artists who can’t afford three months with no pay and who may feel too intimidated to speak out:
Business leaders and economists have been warning our supply-siding, GOP-run congress for years that you can’t grow markets without paying people enough to buy your products. But Swift explains this more succinctly:“We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”
Apple Caves In To Taylor Swift.
Swift’s “Dear Apple, Love Taylor” letter instantly went viral with over 70,000 comments on her Tumblr and counting, and guess what? Apple caved within 24 hours. If only it were this easy to shame Republicans into reversing their massive cuts to our food stamps program. Jezebel reports:And less than 24 hours later, Apple’s Eddy Cue announced the company had relented and suddenly cared about artists. Apple will now be paying artists for plays of their songs even during the free trial period.
Apple’s Eddy Cue even sent Swift a nice tweet.
We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple
— Eddy Cue (@cue) June 22, 2015
As I wrote in my earlier post, I applaud Swift for taking a stand. If someone with her clout doesn’t stand up for lesser-known artists, who will? Apple and other tech companies have created amazing opportunities for all sorts of creative types to create, publish, share, promote and sell their work. Unfortunately, they haven’t created viable ways for most of us to get paid well for their work.
In a time when companies like Apple are slashing costs and laying off workers, nearly every skill set — no matter how advanced — has been reduced to low-paying, on-demand piece work. Artists, writers and musicians have always struggled, but now, our race to the bottom has made it so even fewer of us can afford to buy their work. Meanwhile, the tech companies use their clout to force customers to pay more and more while paying what they call “content providers” less and less.
How Much Do Taylor Swift And Other Artists Make From Music Streaming?
Getting Apple to open their screeching wallets and pay royalties during their music streaming trial period is a major victory for Swift and for artists everywhere. Plus, it’s good to know that tech giants and other huge corporations can’t do whatever the Hell they want. Alas, we’ve still got a long way to go. We need to ask ourselves this scary question:
How much can musicians actually make from a music streaming service?
In April, the Guardian reported that the numbers don’t look so good. On Spotify — Apple’s main music streaming competitor — an unsigned, solo musician needs 180,000 plays to earn the paltry U.S. minimum wage of $1,260 for the month. If they’re signed and their record label takes a percent, the same solo musician would need an even more daunting 1,117,0221 plays a month to scrape by on minimum wage.
Time Magazine adds that Spotify artists’ earnings from music streaming are dismal:
So how much do Spotify artists actually make? Artists earn on average less than one cent per play, between $0.006 and $0.0084, to be exact, according to Spotify Artists, a website that explains the service to artists.
No wonder Swift pulled all her music from Spotify. She wrote the following in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on why artists shouldn’t be forced to devalue their work:
In my opinion, the value of an album is, and will continue to be, based on the amount of heart and soul an artist has bled into a body of work, and the financial value that artists (and their labels) place on their music when it goes out into the marketplace. Piracy, file sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently.
Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.
Apple music streaming is scheduled to launch on June 30. Let’s hope they pay their musical artists better than Spotify does. Otherwise, this may not be the last Apple’s heard from Taylor Swift.
Here’s the video with HuffPo Live‘s coverage on Taylor Swift’s amazing victory over Apple on behalf of recording artists..