Taylor Swift shakes Apple off…
I never thought I would become a member of the Taylor Swift Fan Club, but I am.
The pop diva took on Apple, the world’s biggest corporation, and won.
For a quick recap, Apple decided it would not compensate artists for a three-month trial of its new streaming music service. Apple didn’t say it would eat the cost. It passed the burden on to the people supplying the content.
Any freelance writer or other creative person should know what this feel like, even if they’re not in a band or a pop star. Content so often is supposed to be free.
I’ve seen social events that paid DJs nice sums for standing in front of a laptop and clicking buttons but expects schooled musicians playing live music to work for free. And the event planners don’t see anything wrong with that.
Taylor had another opinion, and she voiced it in an open letter to Apple. She withdrew a new album from the service—not because she can’t shoulder the financial burden of no royalties but because it disproportionately impacts new artists who really do need every dollar. “We don’t ask you for free iPhones,” she said. “Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”
It worked. In less than a day, Apple reversed itself. Well, what it actually said was it hadn’t really planned on stiffing artists after all, it was just going to pay them more later and that would make up any difference. Right.
This is hardly unique to Apple. A while ago McDonalds was the recipient of ire when it refused to pay for music at a major event. As is typical in situations like these, they say the “exposure” is worth more than hard cash. Try that one on your landlord.
While I’m indifferent to her teeny-bop music, I’m glad someone of Swift’s magnitude is calling attention to what’s becoming a very common assumption: that creative people—unless they’re megastars—should give away their efforts for nothing or very little. From Amazon’s unfair deals for authors to various publishing house ebook controversies, the much-ballyhooed “creative class” is largely getting the short end of the deal, while people who bring little to the table but control the pipes make rules that benefit only them. Taylor Swift brought that to the national consciousness yesterday, and despite petty carping from a few quarters most people are praising her actions. Keep shaking, baby.