Apple Swiftly Reverses Decision to Withhold Royalties

Taylor Swift awarded with the IFPI Global Recording Artist of 2014 Award. Photo: Hogan for Getty Images

Taylor Swift awarded with the IFPI Global Recording Artist of 2014 Award. Photo: Hogan for Getty Images

Give Taylor Swift less than 500 words and about 16 hours and she will persuade the world’s largest company, Apple, to find value in music.

Apple previously said it would not pay rights holders for their music consumed during the 3-month free trial period of the new Apple Music streaming service, but that decision was swiftly reversed after the pop superstar posted a note on Tumblr Sunday (June 21).

She spoke out in opposition on behalf of the “echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in [her] social circles who are afraid to speak up….This is not about me. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs…We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.

Later that day, Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue phoned Swift, who is on tour in Amsterdam, and publicly released a statement on Twitter (below) confirming the company which posted $13.6 billion in net profit last quarter, will indeed be paying artists.


In an interview with Cue, Billboard cites Apple’s excuse for withholding payments as “planning to originally negotiate a higher royalty rate, which they will stick with.”

Cue declined to state that royalty rate, however during a separate interview with BuzzFeed, he confirmed, “[Apple] will pay artists on a per stream basis during the free three-month trial. Afterwards, it will pay music owners 71.5-percent of Apple Music’s subscription revenue in the United States. Internationally, the number will fluctuate, but will average out at around 73-percent.”

Scott Borchetta. Photo: Rick Diamond.

BMLG’s Scott Borchetta promotes Music Has Value. Photo: Rick Diamond.

Swift publicly expressed gratitude for the decision turn-around but has not yet commented on whether or not her original declaration to exclude her latest album, 1989, from the new streaming service will be reversed.

Arguably today’s largest superstar, Swift has used her platform to fight low royalty rates on behalf of artists. She removed her records from streaming music service Spotify—where her albums are still unavailable on its paid and unpaid platforms—after penning a 2014 Wall Street Journal op-ed. Her Nashville-based record label, Big Machine Label Group, has since begun a campaign promoting the premise: “Music Has Value.”


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Eric T. Parker oversees operations and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine,, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. [email protected] | @EricTParker

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