Apple’s big new music venture goes live on June 30th with the release of iOS 8.4. Apple Music is set to allow its users to stream unlimited amounts of music to their iPhones, iPads and Macs without having to hand over a dollar beyond the $9.99 monthly subscription fee. It’s a model that’s not exactly new to the music industry, with Spotify, Rdio and others already doing that exact same thing. The music makers aren’t particularly happy with the deals they have with such companies, but surely things will be different with Apple, right?
In an open letter to Apple today titled “To Apple, Love Taylor”, arguably the biggest name in the music business right now, Taylor Swift, set about explaining why her latest album “1989” will not be available to listen to via Apple Music. The reason? Its three month free trial period for users. All of her other albums will still be available on Apple Music though.
For those not familiar with the ins and outs of Apple Music, the iPhone maker is offering a free three month long trial to anyone who wants one, with their $9.99 subscription only kicking in once that 90 day period is over. The problem here, says Swift, is that Apple won’t be paying labels and artists for track plays during that initial 90 day trial, meaning they’re effectively giving away their content for free.
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.
She ended the letter with the power statement:
We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.
Swift’s claim is an accurate one but what she didn’t mention is that Apple is paying higher fees to artists than competing services because they wanted a three month free trial for users instead of one month provided by competitors, with 71.5% of subscription revenue in the United States and up to 73% in rest of the world going to the makers of the music people are listening to. Compare that to the industry standard of 70%, and Apple believes it’s doing right by the people making the music that its users will be listening to. This has been confirmed by an Apple executive in an interview to Recode last week.
image credit: Instagram
In short, this is how Apple Music’s free three month trial works for Apple and music industry: Apple provides streaming service for free via its servers, artists and labels are asked to provide music for free. As a result consumers get free three month music service.
Swift and her label, Big Machine, apparently disagrees with that stance even though the likes of Universal Music Group, Sony Music and Warner Music Group seem quite happy to go along with it.
Swift also had issues with Spotify last year. She asked Spotify to pull her latest album “1989” from streaming service, but when Spotify refused to do so, she ended up pulling all of her albums from the said service.
No matter who’s right or who’s wrong in this spat, it’s clear that fans of Taylor Swift won’t be listening to her “1989” album via the new Apple Music service come the end of this month.
Maybe they’ll just pirate it instead?