Apple Reverses Course, Will Pay Artists During Apple Music Trial [u]

Earlier today, Taylor Swift wrote a scathing letter to Apple, lambasting the company for not paying artists during Apple Music’s initial three-month free trial.

The musician’s letter was just one of many artists that have been critical of the free trial, but now Apple has reversed its policy, as announced by company VP Eddy Cue on Twitter tonight and later confirmed to BuzzFeed News:

“We’ve been watching the discussion for the past week,” Cue said. “We want artists to be paid for their work, and when we hear from them — from Taylor or from indie artists — we listen to them. Taylor’s tweet today solidified the issue for us and we decided to make a change.”

Cue noted he called Taylor Swift personally to inform her of the change (which was discussed with CEO Tim Cook before calling the artist) and said “she was thrilled” to hear the news.

Later on Twitter, Swift announced she was “elated and relieved” that Apple made the change:

Once the three-month trial is over for Apple Music, the company will pay U.S. artists 71.5 percent of subscription revenues, while those outside the U.S. will get 73 percent. Apple Music launches worldwide on June 30.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Apple react so quickly to criticism and make a major change. This is definitely a different Apple in the post-Jobs era.

Update: Re/code also spoke to Cue and provided some more details. Cue said Tim Cook was on board with the change, noting “It’s something we worked on together. Ultimately we both wanted to make the change.” He also explained why he broke the news on Twitter, saying it seemed like a good way to spread the word.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.

  • FragilityG4

    Good on Apple, it was wrong not to pay them in the first place.

  • sukisszoze

    The amount owing to the artists for three months probably will not impact their bottom line, but Apple got good publicity out of this as the good guy with a change of heart.

  • ShaBi

    Who’s to say this whole thing wasn’t planned from the beginning?

    – Get people excited about the new service.
    – A popular artist who just happens to be No.1 speaks out about the under laying issues with free services – which indirectly showcases the problem between artists and other free services.
    – Artist gains free “positive” publicity by “standing up to bullies”.
    – Apple comes out immediately with the respond “we listen to your concerns”.
    – Apple gains more positive publicity by “doing the right thing”, using a “low-profile announcement” on Twitter, effectively spreading the word in an instant without doing the work themselves.

    It’s a win win for everybody. All in a matter of just 1 Sunday.

  • I’ve never seen Apple make a decision this quickly, I’ll give you that. And the fact it was pretty much all done Sunday night, to ensure headlines on Monday morning, roughly a week before Apple Music launches on the 30th.

  • ShaBi

    Exactly. And this it’s not a simple yes or no decision, it involves a whole lot of calculations and whatnot.

    Not saying they did this on purpose for sure, but it all just seems scripted to me.

  • sukisszoze

    If this was planned in advance, they better keep this under wrapped … it would be pretty embarrassing for the parties involved.

  • Or, it could be that Apple is just being great, as always…right?? 🙂

  • ShaBi

    No one will ever know, nor will ever admit it, so pretty sure they’re safe. I’m just talking out of curiosity.