Taylor Swift Puts the Smack-Down on Apple [Editorial]

Discussion in 'Android News' started by dgstorm, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. dgstorm

    dgstorm Editor in Chief
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    [​IMG]
    The image above is from an older article from Time magazine, but it seems very apropos.

    What is the definition of power in today's modern world? Is it the ability to throw around billions of dollars in capitol to change the outcome of events? Is it having the biggest and most powerful army or weapons? Is it the amount of political influence an individual or group can bring to bear on a specific agenda? Is it the amazing accomplishments that can change the world when groups of people come together for a common goal?

    Certainly each of these examples definitely qualify as expressions of power, and there are a myriad other unspoken ideas that qualify as well. On hand today we have another example that is a bit more mundane, yet still poignant. Sometimes the power to influence an entire market can come from the smallest actions taken by the most popular person of the moment. This weekend, that action was a simple post to Tumblr, and the person of the moment is Taylor Swift.

    In case you missed it, one of the big news items of the end of last week was Apple announcing that they would be offering a three-month free trial period for Apple Music, but they weren't going to be compensating artists during that time. Of course, a large number of independent artists collectively cried out, because this was basically Apple forcing them to take a pay cut in order to entice people to use Apple's product. Sadly, although their complaints probably got the attention of Apple, it wasn't enough to change their policy... but then Taylor Swift came to their rescue.

    For those who don't follow pop music, Taylor Swift is currently the queen of pop and her massive popularity and ridiculous volume of album sales give her enormous power. Her newest album, entitled "1989," is a massive hit, selling over 5 million copies when most consumers don't even buy whole albums anymore. In response to Apple's announcement, Swift penned an open letter on Tumblr explaining that she would be pulling her "1989" album from the Apple Music, decrying Apple's decision to strip 3 months of pay from struggling artists.

    She made it clear in the letter that she wasn't doing it because she was concerned about the 3 months of money loss for herself (after-all, she is enormously successful and quite wealthy now). Her act of public Apple Music defiance was specifically targeted as a protest to support new and small independent artists who would be hurt most by this policy. Swift knew that these smaller artists didn't have a voice, so she publicly shared her belief that Apple should foot the bill to “pay artists, writers and producers for the 3 month trial period… even if it is free for the fans trying it out.” You can find her Tumblr post here to read her full explanation: Tumblr - Taylor Swift

    The amazing thing was that her post had an effect within hours. Apple almost immediately reversed course on their decision and Tweeted their new intention of paying artists during that three month trial period. That is a prime example of an expression of power. With just a few paragraphs, the "cult of personality" used its avatar du jour to get a $700 Billion dollar company to realize what a massive PR dung-pile it was about to step into. In fact, it almost makes you wonder what Apple was thinking to begin with.

    As an interesting sidenote, Apple isn't completely a "bad guy" in this scenario. According to Apple themselves, the deal they make with artists to be on Apple Music compensates music owners approximately 73% of all subscription revenue on the back end. This is a few points higher than the industry average.

    Regardless, it's an impressive turn of events from a single individual. What do you think of Taylor Swift wading into this issue, and what do you think of Apple's quick about face?
     
    #1 dgstorm, Jun 22, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2015
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  2. pc747

    pc747 Administrator
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    I read that on twitter yesterday and noticed other artists agreed with her. It is easy as a consumer to complain being they make millions but when you step back and think that 1) not all artists are making what Taylor Swift and some of the other big names out there, so if a big name don't speak up the the no names would just get crapped on.
    2) No matter how much someone is getting paid it is not my right to tell them what they should or should not be making or demand they work for free. If I demand to get paid for every minute I am on the clock then I have to respect an artist requesting the same. To work for free while someone else (ie Apple) continue to make millions is insane. It is one thing if it was for charity but Apple Music is not a charity project.
    Unfortunately this could hurt the roll out that Apple has planned for Apple Music unless they are willing to pay the artists now with the hopes of knowing they will make it on the back end later.
     
  3. dgstorm

    dgstorm Editor in Chief
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    I agree with most of what you said, but I don't think this will hurt Apple in the least. They are sitting on almost $1 Trillion dollars in cash reserves. If they wanted to throw a couple billion in advertising Apple Music and making it the best product on the planet, it would be a drop in the bucket for them.

    Having a big name artist like Taylor Swift basically slap them in the face would have been very detrimental. It took Swift's swift action to help Apple pull their heads out of their arses!
     
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  4. johnomaz

    johnomaz Silver Member

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    I don't think this is an expression of power by any of the big name artists, but pure greed by Apple, as it has always been with them. They weighed the cost of how much losing the few big names would be vs paying the little guys. They don't care if any of the big namers hate them for doing it either. Apple is in the business of making money and losing the big namers loses them money, far far more than paying the little guys.
     
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  5. dgstorm

    dgstorm Editor in Chief
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  6. thunderbolt_nick

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    Well, looks like Apple caved and came out with a public statement they would be paying artists during that trial, but how is the big question. Here's something that Leo brought up on TWiT that go me questioning any real 'intent' from the Swift crowd: Why are they complaining to Apple in the first place? Isn't the record labels the ones you should be complaining about for not getting paid as they are the ones that write your paycheck?

    From what I understand the record labels are notorious for undercutting artists on big deals they make with companies like Spotify and Pandora. That money is then distributed to the artists, supposedly. How much artists get is regulated by...you guessed it: the record labels. So, if Apple is going to do what they say they are going to do, if they pay the record labels instead of the artists directly, wouldn't that defeat the purpose of the Swiftite argument? Sounds like a publicity stunt to me.
     
  7. 94lt1

    94lt1 Super Moderator
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    I know and have worked with several artists that have their music on iTunes. This is a huge thing for these smaller local acts.... These artists put their hearts and souls into these albums and tracks..its common place for people to try this with musicians, and musicians in the past have gone for the "exposure" and no pay..with the hope that they get heard and someone will call for a gig..

    Have you ever called a restaurant and said...hey..I'm having a party. I need catering for 2-300 people..i want a good quality meal and great service.. Oh..and i won't be paying you...the experience and exposure should cover it..

    One would say the cost of the food...musicians pay out fuel , strings, lessons, in this case, studio time, then there's mixing.. Final mixing.. That price varies on just who you can get behind that board. Also equipment, rehearsal halls that many bands rent to practice out of, press kits , album art, hotels (usually motels, 2 rooms for 5 people or more) some bands pay a sound man...set up, tear down..

    And in this case the vast majority of the intended people she's aiming to help...don't have deals..most groups and bands are staying away from deals ..there's no such thing as the old days of...guy walks up say hi I'm gonna make you a star, now you record an album at a high dollar studio and then they send you out on the road..

    Now you pay, moat people consider a deal like a 50/50 to be a mirage..i know of a few guys that have gotten em..but its rare..record deals are expensive.. And they can hold you up and change your music..
     
    #7 94lt1, Jun 22, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2015
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  8. pc747

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  9. Jeffrey

    Jeffrey Premium Member
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    I'm sure Apple's thinking was, if it's free why pay the artists. Unfortunately, Apple decided to give it away, not the artists.
     
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  10. 94lt1

    94lt1 Super Moderator
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    Thankfully... Though i don't know what prompted this...TS stepped up and decided they don't get to decide that..perhaps she's lookin out for the smaller acts...who knows..
     
  11. dezymond

    dezymond Tech Support Mod
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    Some say she's looking out for smaller time musicians, some say it was an elaborate ad campaign for Apple's music service by Apple and Swift. Either way, the small time musicians get paid for what they deserve to be paid for in the first place. Swift becomes more of the "good role model" she already is. And Apple won't suffer any backlash from the public because....they're Apple.

    Swift seems to be one of the more honest celebrities imo. So I think she did it for the better good and it isn't some elaborate ad campaign for Apple's music service.
     
  12. Jonny Kansas

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    I'd just like to point out, my own personal feelings for Apple aside, that we don't have all of the details of what they were originally planning. Maybe they're just blowing smoke, but I read elsewhere that their intention was to compensate the artists more down the road after not doing so for the 3-month trial period. Again, I don't have any specific numbers.

    That said, I agree that, 3 months without any compensation would be tough for anyone already struggling. I think this would've been felt the most when the service initially launches. You know the iSheep (and maybe some of our friends here) are going to jump on the service when it first become available, so you're talking 3 months of not getting paid for ANYONE listening to your music through the service. Once that initial wave of new subscribers passes their 3 months of free service, the artists would then be paid based on whatever structured agreement they've got setup. When you're being paid for x number of people listening to your music during the next 3 months after the initial wave, it wouldn't hurt so bad to not get paid for a smaller number of late adopters while still being paid for those that're now paying for the service.

    Also, to further play devil's advocate, if you're struggling artist, you're not making end's meat off of iTunes users. You're out playing gigs and hawking your merch. Sure, that extra bit from iTunes is nice, but it's not paying the bills for most struggling artists.