Taylor Swift is being featured on the cover of the September issue of Vanity Fair (view the full cover below the fold), and at the center of the interview within the high profile magazine is the pop star’s telling of her recent episode with Apple. Plans to not compensate artists during Apple Music’s three-month free trial period prompted Swift to publish an open letter explaining why her latest album 1989 wouldn’t be available on their new music streaming service. Apple quickly moved to change that policy and Swift’s album was notably highly promoted on Apple Music at launch. In the interview with Vanity Fair, Taylor Swift detailed her exchange with Apple while comparing it to a similar experience with Spotify that had a different outcome…
Swift says she wrote the open letter in the middle of the night, only reading it to her mom and no one else before publishing it, after a friend sent her a screenshot of the terms of their Apple Music contract:
“I wrote the letter at around four A.M.,” Swift says. “The contracts had just gone out to my friends, and one of them sent me a screenshot of one of them. I read the term ‘zero percent compensation to rights holders.’ Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and I’ll write a song and I can’t sleep until I finish it, and it was like that with the letter.”
The pop star expressed surprise at Apple’s quick and positive reaction to her open letter — while calling Spotify a “start-up with no cash flow” in the process:
“Apple treated me like I was a voice of a creative community that they actually cared about,” she says. “And I found it really ironic that the multi-billion-dollar company reacted to criticism with humility, and the start-up with no cash flow reacted to criticism like a corporate machine.”
Swift also mentioned during the interview that she worried about how people would respond to her stance against Apple Music at the time — noting it was about starting artists and not established ones like herself — after receiving some degree of criticism from her previous complaint over Spotify’s business model and artist compensation:
“My fears were that I would be looked at as someone who just whines and rants about this thing that no one else is really ranting about.”
In the end, both Taylor Swift and Apple’s leadership came out looking positive — and Apple Music launched with her and her fanbase’s support —while she still holds 1989 from Spotify over their ad-backed free-tier for streaming her album. Apple Music is paid-only aside from the initial three-month trial period and the only similar service that offers her full catalog.
You can read the full interview from Vanity Fair.