Taylor Swift has been applauded lately for her “victorious” open letter to Apple, explaining why she wouldn’t include her new album 1989 on their new streaming service, Apple Music. In her letter, Swift explained that Apple Music is giving its customers a three-month trial, which means that artists won’t get paid during those three months. Apple responded in a series of tweets, saying that they decided to pay their artists during the three-month trial. Now, a Pandora exec and a freelance photographer are slamming Taylor Swift for her letter.
Pandora is speaking out about Taylor Swift’s open letter, and it’s not pretty. Chief Technology Officer Tom Conrad also took to Twitter to address his feelings about Swift’s letter. In a series of Tweets, Conrad argued that streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube pay all artists every time a user streams their music through free trials or paid subscriptions. He also goes on to say that Swift’s letter and Apple’s “swift” move is all part of their PR. He also says that both fans and the media shouldn’t see Swift’s letter as some sort of heroic move or as progress within the music industry.
“1/ Spotify, YouTube Pandora and others all pay artists for their free tiers and trials. It’s the right thing to do.
2/ Swift took her new album off Spotify not because she’s not paid, but because she feels their free service “devalues music.”
3/ Swift never pulled from YouTube which is the most popular free service and certainly devalues music if Spotify does.
4/ Swift’s career was [built] on terrestrial radio play, which is a free service AND doesn’t pay recording artists a dime.
5/ Apple isn’t getting rid of its long free trial, but is now going to pay artists. This simply puts it at parity with all other players.
6/ Reminder: Apple uses music to make billion[s] off hardware. Artists see nothing from this.
7/ Swift’s letter and Apple’s response is mostly theater. Nothing here to suggest that Apple treats artists more fairly than anyone else.
8/ My point is this: there is too much animus between artists & Silicon Valley. We shouldn’t herald this move as progress. It’s status quo.”
Even Wired contributor Issie Lapowsky says that Apple shouldn’t get so much credit for deciding to pay its artists. The only thing Apple should get credit for is garnering headlines and publicity. The company even got some free publicity from Taylor Swift, according to the article. Some would say that Apple should get paid for Swift’s marketing efforts.
A freelance photographer isn’t sitting well with Swift’s letter either. Jason Sheldon is calling Swift a hypocrite in his very open letter on his blog. He explains that Swift’s controls the use of her photos, which means that photographers like Sheldon won’t get paid for their work. Sheldon goes as far as to say that Swift has acted the same that Apple has in the past for not paying their artists.
“You say in your letter that three months is a long time to go unpaid. But you seem happy to restrict us to being paid once, and never being able to earn from our work ever again, while granting you the rights to exploit our work for your benefit for all eternity. How are you any different to Apple?
“Photographers need to earn a living as well. Like Apple, you can afford to pay for photographs so please stop forcing us to hand them over to you while you prevent us from publishing them more than once, ever.”
Although Taylor Swift has received plenty of applause from the public, she will no doubt receive plenty of scrutiny over the next few days. Both the public and the fans are waiting to see if 1989 will now be offered on Apple Music when it launches on June 30. If Taylor Swift still doesn’t offer her album on the new streaming service, then she will definitely be seen as a hypocrite. Still, some will continue to call her a hypocrite if she doesn’t pull her music from other streaming services or if she blocks freelance photographers from making a profit off of their own work. That hasn’t stopped some fans from wondering if Swift has gotten “greedier” as her star gets bigger.
What are your thoughts on Taylor Swift’s open letter to Apple? Do you think she should be applauded as well as criticized? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.
[Image: Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images for TAS]