Updated 12:30am ET on June 22
Apple’s new music streaming service, Apple Music, has taken Taylor Swift’s criticism to heart. Hours after the global pop music star said she would pull her latest album from Apple Music, the company reversed course, and promised to pay artists during a three-month trial period that is free to consumers.
Apple’s turnaround was announced by Eddy Cue, the company’s senior vice president of internet software and services, on a verified Twitter account:
He followed up the announcement with some industry air kisses.
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.
… I realize that Apple is working towards a goal of paid streaming. I think that is beautiful progress. We know how astronomically successful Apple has been and we know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the 3 month trial period… even if it is free for the fans trying it out.
Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing.
Rumors of Apple’s new streaming music service had us thinking that Taylor might have found the right digital distribution service to mend the heart of a lonely Starbucks lover, since the company won’t be offering the ad-supported “free tier” that often spells lower revenue for artists and helped spur her decision to pull 1989 from Spotify last year.
But the problem, according to executives at Spotify, is that a free tier is often necessary to convert interested customers into loyal subscribers. Tidal, the music streaming service owned by Jay-Z, has no free tier and has run into this problem, leading analysts to predict its failure.
For Apple, with its massive customer base of iTunes music buyers, finding the audience for the streaming service doesn’t seem as big of a challenge. But people are reluctant to pay for anything they’ve never used before, hence the three-month trial period. However, as Swift implies, a company that has $200 billion in cash on its balance sheet could probably cover the costs of the trial without blinking an eye.