Taylor Swift (AP/Greg Allen)

Taylor Swift tells off Apple, withholds "1989": "Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing"

In an open letter on her Tumblr, she fights for fairness and musicians getting paid for their work


Salon Staff
June 21, 2015 5:01PM (UTC)

Taylor Swift -- one of music's biggest stars -- is also becoming the most vocal voice on behalf of musicians being paid fairly from streaming services. First she battled with Spotify. And now she is taking on Apple, whose new streaming model includes a three-month trial for consumers -- but Apple also won't pay artists for any streams of their songs during that period.

Swift calls this unfair in an open letter on her Tumblr today, and writes that she was surprised that Apple -- which she calls a historically progressive and generous company -- would not pay artists.

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"This is not about me," she writes. "This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success."

Highlights from her letter are below, and the complete letter is here.

I write this to explain why I’ll be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music. I feel this deserves an explanation because 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’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.

This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.

These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. ...

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. ...

... We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.


Salon Staff

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