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Taylor Swift Takes Bite Out of New Apple Music Service: Why it Matters

Taylor Swift called out Apple over its new music service and Apple blinked. It changed its policy on compensating artists. (Photo: Elle)

Taylor Swift called out Apple over its new music service and Apple blinked. It changed its policy on compensating artists. (Photo: Elle)

Taylor Swift’s gutsy move to prevent Apple from offering her latest album, 1989, on its about-to-launch streaming music service struck a blow for all artists. Apple was smart to reverse its policy on paying royalties.

Swift is probably the last artist who needs to worry about getting paid.

But royalties are critical to a host of other struggling and/or up-and-coming musicians who count on every penny to keep making music.

It took someone with Swift’s market clout to get Apple’s attention, and the tech company wisely chose to switch than fight to avoid launching its new service under a cloud.

What a difference from little more than a decade ago when Apple launched its iTunes download service. It literally dictated prices without heeding the major record companies.

They not only wanted more money, but only wanted to sell albums, a move Apple categorically rejected when it gave birth to 99-cent singles.

At the time, the record companies were under assault from rampant illegal downloading. Apple’s alternative offered them at least some way to cash in on the digital music trend.

For $10 a month, Apple subscribers will be able to steam a large catalog of songs. The company said music owners will receive 70 percent of the subscription revenue.

Swift objected because Apple planned to offer consumers a three-month trial period, during which it planned to forgo royalties.

“Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing… We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation,” she wrote on her blog.

Other artists have protested Apple’s iTunes policy and ended up cutting separate deals. But Swift said she was taking a stand for all indie artists.

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

Swift jerked her entire catalog out from under music streaming site Spotify last November for much the same reason. She claimed the service was cutting into album sales.

She made her point when 1989 became the fastest selling album in a decade. In all, it has sold sold more than 4.9 million copies since its October release.

Apple executive Eddy Cue responded on Twitter today that the company had changed its mind. Apple will launch at the end this month, a catch-up move to counter industry leader Spotify and Jay Z’s new $56-million streaming service “Tidal.”

Unlike Apple’s near monopoly on legal downloads, it’s facing competition this time around. It apparently concluded that it would rather get by with a little help from its friends.

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