Taylor Swift to Apple: Pay Me or Do Not Play Me


SwiftTaylor Swift continues to show why she is such a positive role model for other artists, young women and more with her Pay Me or Do Not Play Me stand against Apple Music. The hottest artist in the record industry is challenging the technology behemoth’s plans to offer its new music streaming service, debuting June 30, for free three-month trial subscriptions without paying royalties to artists.

Swift wrote an open letter to Apple (that she shared on her Tumblr page) about the Bad Blood they are creating and why she will not allow her most recent album, 1989, to be played on Apple Music. She did not exactly ask “Why you gotta be so mean?” However, she called them on the proverbial carpet for their decision to not pay the writers, producers, or recording artists for songs played during the three months. Her letter noted, “I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.”

This is not the first time the singer took a stand against how the music industry operates today. She pulled all of her songs off Spotify, another streaming service, last year and published a piece in the Wall Street Journal explaining why.

While Swift certainly does not need the money, but neither does Apple (one of the wealthiest companies in the world with reportedly $200 billion in the bank), she said she is taking a stand and withholding her latest material out of concern for new artists or bands with their first single or album, that need the money and will not be paid for a quarter of the year, on their first successful recordings. Taylor Swift says her stand against Apple is out of concern for all artists, as she stated to the tech company: pay me or do not play me.

Noticeably, she is not saying We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. Swift also noticeably did not say that Apple cannot play her older materials without paying her.

Apple experienced considerable resistance from music acts when it launched iTunes. Many long-term artists refused to let iTunes sell their catalog, partly over pay scales, and partly over the ability to buy select songs versus whole albums, as well as, partly over fears that their music would be shared without further compensation. Over time, many of those hold outs realized that they needed iTunes to survive, and Apple needed them (most notably The Beatles) to be truly comprehensive.

The same will presumably come true for Apple Music and recording artists. Apple could spend heavily, pay royalties, get top artists in its corner and make the new music service a successful alternative to Spotify and Pandora. Choosing not to do so is shortsighted and surprising.

Swift may be the biggest artist to object to Apple’s plans, but she insisted her sentiments are echoed by “every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much.” Outside her social circle, many independent labels and artists have loudly condemned the “free trial.” Many are talking about withholding their songs, too, but Swift’s clout and reputation as a sensible role model ensures that her voice will be louder and more noticeable than others. Apple and its new Apple Music service need to realize that Taylor Swift is not going to Shake It Off and they will need to, paraphrasing her letter: ‘pay me, or do not play me.’

Written and edited by Dyanne Weiss

Taylor Swift Tumblr: To Apple, Love Taylor
Forbes: Taylor Swift’s Letter To Apple: Stern, Polite, And Necessary
USA Today: Apple has major cleanup work to do for Apple Music