in Apple, Marketing

Taylor Swift vs Apple

When Apple announced Apple Music, they planned to offer a free 3-month trial to anyone who signed up. What wasn’t clear is who would be paying for the music during those 3 months.

Turns out 1 that Apple thought musicians, writers and artists would go along with Apple and forgo revenue for three months – the “we’re all in this together” mentality. Which I don’t completely disagree with. Apple’s coming up with a way to hopefully sell more music, why shouldn’t artists share a bit of the risk for potentially more income down the road?

But I also believe that a multi-billion dollar company like Apple can afford to pay artists – especially when keynote after keynote the corporation stresses how much “music is in Apple’s DNA”.

Over the weekend, Taylor Swift 2 wrote a letter to Apple, titled To Apple, Love Taylor:

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.

and…

But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.

The letter was published Sunday morning. By Sunday evening, Apple had responded:

I still maintain Apple should have just done this from the beginning. I have no idea what 3 months of streaming all the music in the world would cost but I’m sure it’s less than a billion dollars. Of which Apple has more than 100 of those billions, reportedly.

Marketing 101

Regardless – the smartest thing Apple did here is respond before Monday morning. The first thing people could have read Monday morning might have went something like:

Taylor Swift fights for artists right to get paid against the greedy corporate Apple overlords.

While that will still be part of the story, the net result is a positive story for Apple Music. Apple does good by artists and unlike other streaming services, will pay artists for the free tier.

Apple Music is talked about for another news cycle in a more positive light. Pretty cheap marketing for Apple.


  1. “Turns out” is always to be read in Merlin Mann’s voice on this blog.

  2. Here’s a link to her music on iTunes in case you’re not familiar with her work.