Swift Justice for Artists
Chalk another one up for Taylor Swift. The artist made headlines again this week when she wrote a public letter to Apple regarding their upcoming streaming service. Swift wrote in the name of the “little” artists who would be hurt by Apple’s decision to offer the service for free for the first three months as Apple was not planning to compensate artists for their works during this period. She threatened to pull her most recent album 1989 from Apple, as she did with Spotify, if Apple didn’t agree to pay all artists during these months. It’s unsurprising to see this move from Swift; the surprising part is that Apple listened.
Swift consistently has us saying her name; we’ve praised her business decisions when she applied for trademarks for her lyrics, bemoaned her pulling her music from Spotify, and related to her social media posts. But this may be something not all can relate to. In the letter, Swift stands up for the smaller, newer artists whose voices wouldn’t be heard by Apple if they spoke up. These artists, she claimed, would be losing out on much needed royalties if they allowed Apple access to their music for free. But to take the music away from Apple would mean losing a great opportunity for exposure artists to new fans. In this catch 22, the more reasonable solution means losing money.
While Swift does make a fair point, some have found her involvement to be a bit hypocritical. Despite her repetitive claims that this letter was not about her personally, many think something is off about it. Swift has been making bold choices in the past months, and this almost seems like an abuse of her power. While she certainly makes valid points, and it was a brave move to publicize such a letter, some can view this as very much about her. However, this can easily be overlooked when taken as a whole in light of the changes these stances are causing in the music world.
Swift does point out that she personally doesn’t need the money, but the smaller artists do. She believes that Apple has enough money to pay the artists out of pocket and still offer the service for free. Regardless of how the public views this, artists appreciated the letter, especially after Apple agreed. Early reports show that the artists will be paid 0.02 cents per play, which adds up quickly. Since the announcement, a large variety of bands have signed up for the service.
Even if her strategy leaves a bad taste in some mouths, you can’t deny the benefits this letter brought to artists who will now experience incredible exposure and not lose out on profits because of it. What’s more, this sets a precedent for similar situations in the future. The rights of the artist are becoming more widely recognized, and Swift may be a catalyst. To celebrate, we can dance to Shake It Off on Apple streaming for free—for three months anyway.