One week from its big music streaming homecoming, Apple Music is floating like a butterfly, stinging like a bee, and suddenly contender for ‘belle of the ball’.
On Sunday, the mighty Taylor Swift called out the world’s richest tech company for trying to skip out on paying artists and publishers during Apple Music’s initial 3-month free trial period:
“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.
“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. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.”
Apple, having more money than the U.S. government, called in all its forces and promptly… tweeted in agreement.
“#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period” -Eddy Cue (@cue), Senior VP of Internet Software and Services at Apple.
Yup. All done with a tweet. By the end of the day. On a weekend.
(Swift tweeted back within an hour to say she was “elated and relieved”.)
Spotify interrupted it’s giddy gyrations at Apple Music’s limp reviews to smack it’s forehead again for being such a massive jerk to the world’s biggest pop star. (Seriously sad attempts have been made to woo her back. Like, so sad.)
Meanwhile, the streaming service keeps humming along in its little green bubble, sucking its deep well of remaining artists dry of any hope for real royalties. It’s almost as if Spotify doesn’t know Apple is dropping banana peels nearby on the dance floor (actively pushing labels to kill their Spotify and YouTube freemium deals).
Not even at the dance long enough to offend anyone, Tidal is still licking it’s wounds from flirtatious Drake suddenly skipping its dance card to go slow groove with Apple. Tidal has a unique amount of subscriber loyalty, likely due to it’s musician-based ownership (fandom has its privileges). But Tidal’s paid-only membership is still only projected to hit 500,000 users in 2015, compared with the 15 million paid subscribers Spotify currently relishes.
(Isn’t it refreshing that Pandora isn’t even a part of the conversation anymore?)
So what do you think? Can Apple Music, with its massive pre-established user base (+ credit card data) out-dance them all and win the hearts of paid music subscribers for the long haul? If Apple does, will musicians at last gain back their fair share of the music industry’s revenue? Or is it all just smoke and mirrors of the same tune Spotify and Pandora have been playing all along?