Jimmy Iovine Reveals Reaction to Taylor Swift Letter


Earlier this week, Taylor Swift revealed the background story behind the “To Apple, Love Taylor” letter she posted on Sunday, June 21, early in the morning. That open letter made waves immediately after it went live and prompted Apple to quickly respond with the answer artists wanted to hear: It will pay royalties during the 3-month trial period of Apple Music. But how did this happen? Jimmy Iovine shared the details in an interview with the Evening Standard (via MacRumors).


“Eddy [Cue, Apple senior VP] woke up on Sunday morning,” says Iovine. “He called me and said, ‘This is a drag’. I was like, ‘Yeah, maybe there’s some stuff she doesn’t understand’. He said, ‘Why don’t you give Scott [Borchetta, Swift’s label boss] a call? I called Scott, I called Eddy back, Eddy and Tim [Cook, Apple CEO] called me back and we said, ‘Hey, you know what, we want this system to be right and we want artists to be comfortable, let’s do it’.”

Apple Music launched just over a month ago and already has 11 million subscribers, as revealed by Eddy Cue to USA Today. It will be interesting to see how many of these users convert into paying subscribers, as the market is very competitive, with rivals such as Spotify having been around for a decade. So that leads us to the question: What makes Apple Music special? Since Iovine was instrumental in creating Apple Music, he has the answer: curation, which is done by real people not algorithms. “Algorithms don’t understand the subtlety and the mixing of genres. So we hired the best people we know. Hired hundreds of them,” Iovine says.

Looking at Apple’s rivals, Iovine doesn’t seem to be worried, since human curation sets Apple Music apart from them.

“There’s a lot of [them],” he says, disdainfully. “Music deserves elegance and the distribution right now is not great. It’s all over the place and there are a bunch of utilities. That’s the best you can find. It’s basically a really narrow, small, inelegant way to have music delivered. So it’s sterile, programmed by algorithms and numbing.”

The whole interview is well worth your time. You can read it here.


  • Nick

    …of course, Apple only pays a fraction of a cent per play – and a smaller fraction of a cent per play during the trial period – if she had really ‘won’, they would be paying the same during the trial period as during normal play.

    To put it in to perspective, I’m a musician and just released an album (you can check it out on Apple Music if you want – Nick La Riviere – Another Time Around). It cost me over $20,000 to record and produce that album – that’s a fairly typical amount to spend, and many people on record labels may spend more. But as an indie artist that seems to be about right. In order to make that money from Apple Music with people playing my tracks during the trial period, I’d need people to listen to them about 10,000,000 times. To make matters worse, in order to sell/stream your music with Apple directly you’d need to have 20 albums in your catalogue. If you’ve released less than 20 albums, you need to go through what’s called an aggregator – a company like CD Baby that takes care of distributing your music to iTunes for you. That comes at a price though, which means they take a cut of the $0.002 the artist gets paid per stream during Apple’s trial period.

    So did Taylor Swift really win against apple and improve things for musicians? $0.002 per stream is basically nothing – it might as well be free. I feel like there’s even a chance that Apple knew from the get-go that musicians wouldn’t think $0.002 stream was a good deal, so they started by offering nothing so that when they ‘caved’ to Taylor Swift it seemed like a win for musicians and everyone forgot about it.