Eddy Cue Says Taylor Swift's Letter Solidified Shift in Apple Music Policy

Apple Senior Vice President of Internet Services and Software Eddy Cue told Billboard magazine that Taylor Swift's open letter "solidified" the need to change Apple Music's artist compensation plan. He said that Apple had been discussing the issue for the last week, but that her letter helped push them to make the decision.

Taylor Swift
Source: Wikimedia

At issue was Apple's initial contract negotiations with record labels and independent artists that included no royalty payments during the free three month trial period for Apple Music in exchange for higher royalties once customers started paying.

Major labels in the U.S. were quick to sign up, but indies in the UK, Germany, and other markets quickly cried foul. Some artists, such as Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown Massacre, followed suit, and negative press coverage for Apple built throughout the week.

Taylor Swift posted an open letter to her Tumblr on Sunday that accused Apple of being unfair to artists with its terms. She said it was, "shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company."

Apparently her comments struck a nerve with Apple, because Eddy Cue announced Sunday evening—on Twitter, of all places—that Apple had reversed course and would pay artists even during the free trial period. He followed that up on Monday with an interview with Billboard magazine that included direct questions about this same issue.

"We've been hearing a lot of concern from indie artists about not getting paid during the three-month trial period, which was never our intent," Mr. Cue told Billboard. "We never looked at it as not paying them."

He added, "We had originally negotiated these deals based on paying them a higher royalty rate on an ongoing basis to compensate for this brief time. But when I woke up this morning and saw what Taylor had written, it really solidified that we needed to make a change. And so that's why we decided we will now pay artists during the trial period and we'll also keep the royalty rate at the higher rate."

Mr. Cue also said that Apple has had a good relationship with Ms. Swift, saying, "we've done a lot of great work together." According to him, Ms. Swift, "was really excited to see how quickly we responded and thrilled that we did."

Other tidbits from the interview include the reality that Apple will be paying royalties during the trial period out of its own deep pockets.

Perhaps most interestingly, he took the criticisms Apple has received on the chin, noting, "Going through all of this to get to the right place and get a great service to fans, that's the really important part."