Taylor Swift's Apple Music Letter Surprised Her Record Label, but Pushed Talks 'Over the Edge'

Ahead of the launch of Apple Music, Taylor Swift made headlines when she wrote a scathing open letter to Apple, criticizing its decision not to pay artists for their work during its three-month free trial. Her letter, combined with pushback from indie labels, led Apple to reverse course and opt to pay artists during the three months that customers can listen for free.

Record label exec Scott Borchetta, who serves as the head of Big Machine Records and signed Swift when she was 14, recently spoke at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference and shared some backstory on the negotiations that eventually led Swift to write the letter. According to Borchetta, he'd been in talks with Apple and told the company that his label couldn't support no compensation during the three-month free trial, but wasn't making headway.

swift-apple
Borchetta hadn't spoken to Swift about the negotiations and was caught unawares by her letter, which she didn't clear with her record label. He wasn't angry, though, because her post, as we know, caused Apple to change its policy and made negotiations easier.

"She literally texted me and said, 'Don't be mad,' with the link," Borchetta said. "She was in Europe. I responded and said, 'You don't have any idea how good your timing is right now.'"

A day after Swift's letter, Borchetta had a conference call with Jimmy Iovine and Eddy Cue, where they capitulated and agreed to the demands of both Swift and many other artists who had been resisting signing on with Apple Music due to the free trial.

Scooter Braun, Justin Bieber's manager, was also at the Fortune event and said that Swift's letter gave Apple the push the industry needed to secure a better deal. "Everyone was fighting that fight," he said. "Taylor pushed it over the edge. She made them aware it wasn't just the executives. Sometimes it's good to hear the artists saying it."

Shortly after Apple changed its policy, the company secured a deal with Swift and signed deals with thousands of indie labels a week ahead of Apple Music's launch. Apple Music became the first and only streaming music service to offer Swift's most recent album, 1989.

Top Rated Comments

randymac09 Avatar
74 months ago
Swift action, right on cue.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Tubamajuba Avatar
74 months ago
Had Justin Bieber been the one to write that letter, things would have turned out very differently.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
arggg14 Avatar
74 months ago
Well played Apple and Taylor, well played. The claims of spontaneity are almost believable.
haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jmh600cbr Avatar
74 months ago
i hate taylor swift, but even more than that i hate that apple music has a hip hop taste to it
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
topmounter Avatar
74 months ago
Well played Apple and Taylor, well played. The claims of spontaneity are almost believable.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Paradoxally Avatar
74 months ago
LOL. Yeah, Swift wrote it. Just like she wrote all her songs too.
She actually does. Try again son.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

microsoft edge ios android

Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone is Due to Pre-Installed Software

Friday February 26, 2021 3:35 am PST by
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week participated in his first meeting on Clubhouse, the increasingly popular invite-only conversation app, where he fielded a range of questions as part of an ongoing book tour. Gates was interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, and given that the Clubhouse app is currently only available on iOS, naturally one of the questions that came up was...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thursday February 25, 2021 10:07 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences....
flat mbp 14 inch feature yellow

Redesigned 14-Inch MacBook Pro Expected to Feature Brighter Mini-LED Display With Slimmer Bezels and More

Thursday February 25, 2021 7:48 am PST by
Apple plans to unveil new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with Mini-LED-backlit displays in the second half of this year, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report claims that Radiant Opto-Electronics will be the exclusive supplier of the Mini-LED backlight units, while Quanta Computer is said to be tasked with final assembly of the...
jon prosser imac 2021colors

Prosser: 2021 iMac to Come in Five Colors, Apple Silicon Mac Pro to Resemble 'Stacked' Mac Minis

Wednesday February 24, 2021 7:26 am PST by
Hit-and-miss leaker Jon Prosser has today alleged that the upcoming 2021 iMac models will offer five color options, mirroring the colors of the fourth-generation iPad Air, and revealed a number of additional details about the Mac Pro with Apple Silicon. In a new video on YouTube channel FrontPageTech, Prosser explained that the redesigned iMacs will come featuring options for Silver, Space ...
steam apple logo

Valve Ordered to Give Apple Information on 436 Steam Games As Part of Epic Games Legal Case

Thursday February 25, 2021 1:50 am PST by
Valve, the makers behind popular game distribution platform Steam, will be forced to hand over aggregate historical sales, price, and other information on 436 games hosted on the store to Apple, as part of the Apple vs. Epic Games antitrust case. As reported in a paywalled report by Law360, during a virtual discovery hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixson ordered that...
apple store macarthur center

Apple Store at MacArthur Center in Virginia Permanently Closing Following Years of Safety Issues at Shopping Mall

Thursday February 25, 2021 4:45 pm PST by
Apple today indicated that its retail store at the MacArthur Center shopping mall in Norfolk, Virginia will be permanently closing after over 14 years of business, although an exact closure date has yet to be announced by the company. Apple has assured that it will be offering all employees at the store other positions within Apple, and said that it looks forward to continuing to serve...
m1 mac mini

M1 Mac Users Report Excessive SSD Wear

Tuesday February 23, 2021 7:07 am PST by
Over the past week, some M1 Mac users have been reporting alarming SSD health readings, suggesting that these devices are writing extraordinary amounts of data to their drives (via iMore). Across Twitter and the MacRumors forums, users are reporting that M1 Macs are experiencing extremely high drive writes over a short space of time. In what appear to be the most severe cases, M1 Macs are sai...
apple refurbished m1 mac mini

Apple Begins Selling Refurbished M1 Mac Mini

Thursday February 25, 2021 6:42 pm PST by
Apple today began selling certified refurbished Mac mini models with the M1 chip for the first time in the United States and Canada, with prices discounted by approximately 15 percent compared to brand new models as usual. For example, a refurbished Mac mini with the M1 chip, 256GB of SSD storage, and 16GB of unified memory is available for $759, compared to $899 brand new. Other custom...
qualcomm snapdragon x60 5g

iPhone 13 Lineup Expected to Use Qualcomm's Snapdragon X60 Modem With Several 5G Improvements

Wednesday February 24, 2021 8:10 am PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 13 lineup will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon X60 5G modem, with Samsung to handle manufacturing of the chip, according to DigiTimes. Built on a 5nm process, the X60 packs higher power efficiency into a smaller footprint compared to the 7nm-based Snapdragon X55 modem used in iPhone 12 models, which could contribute to longer battery life. With the X60 modem, iPhone...
2021 mbp sd slot feature2

Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models With HDMI Port and SD Card Reader to Launch Later This Year

Monday February 22, 2021 8:52 pm PST by
Apple plans to release two new MacBook Pro models equipped with an HDMI port and SD card reader in the second half of 2021, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who outlined his expectations in a research note obtained by MacRumors. The return of an SD card reader was first reported by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman last month. "We predict that Apple's two new MacBook Pro models in 2H21 will have...