It’s Taylor Swift’s world, and us peons are just living in it. In what has to be hands down the most illuminating example of the influence 25-year-old country crooner turned global pop phenomenon Taylor Swift possesses, an open letter she posted to her Tumblr account criticizing Apple for refusing to compensate musicians during the company’s three month free trial of it’s new music streaming service, creatively titled Apple Music, soured Apple so much that they have publicly reversed their decision and will now pay royalties for songs streamed during the free trial. Oh, and this all went down in less than 24 hours. Simply put, Taylor Swift gets shit done.
One of Apple’s senior vice presidents, Eddy Cue, took to Twitter to announce that the company took Swift’s well-penned letter to heart, or in actuality, scrambled to ensure that Swift’s catalogue, particularly her latest smash album “1989” which is not currently available on any online music streaming service, would be a part of Apple Music’s archive.
In a series of tweets, Cue revealed that Apple changed its tune and would pay artists for their content that is streamed during a user’s free trial period, then subsequently bragged in interviews about a phone call he had with Swift where she no doubt told him she would never ever ever get back together with Apple if her demands weren’t met, all the while composing her next inevitable smash hit, “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From My Tree.”
It’s an almost unbelievably powerful display of influence – a young woman impacting and reversing the policy of one of the world’s most dominant tech companies. Swift persuading Apple to (fairly) fork over money is about as inspiring as you can get: the little guy, or gal in this instance, standing up to and toppling a Wall Street heavy-hitter.
Despite the fact that Swift is an empire herself, her reasoning wasn’t purely self-motivational by any means. Rather, she went to great lengths in her letter to explain that many of the new and indie artists that have not reached her level of fame or notoriety depend upon the royalties of these streaming services, and the practice of withholding pay for their work and product would be ludicrous in any other service or industry. Swift was spilling truth tea and Apple was forced to gulp it down.
The timing of all this is particularly interesting when you look at Tidal, the maligned artist-owned streaming service from Jay Z which I’ve already gone into detail about why it’s just short of an utter abomination. For everything that’s wrong with Tidal, and please don’t get me started again, its intention to fairly compensate songwriters and artists is pure. That Taylor Swift managed to successfully advocate for this cause for a rival streaming service has been nothing short of a welcome saving of face for Apple, and another nail in the coffin for Tidal.
Presumably, now Apple Music will have access to “1989,” an album that has already sold more than 8.6 million copies worldwide in less than a year, and Tidal will still have “exclusive” content you have to pay at least $20 for that you can ultimately get within a day for free elsewhere on the Internet. Meanwhile, Swift is getting her rightful money’s worth, the respect of industry heads and the media worldwide and has become the poster child for the underdog artist everywhere. Apple – 1, Tidal – 0, Taylor – all of the points.