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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.

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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

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49 months ago
Swift action, right on cue.
Rating: 33 Votes
49 months ago
Had Justin Bieber been the one to write that letter, things would have turned out very differently.
Rating: 13 Votes
49 months ago

Well played Apple and Taylor, well played. The claims of spontaneity are almost believable.

haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Rating: 10 Votes
49 months ago
i hate taylor swift, but even more than that i hate that apple music has a hip hop taste to it
Rating: 9 Votes
49 months ago
Well played Apple and Taylor, well played. The claims of spontaneity are almost believable.
Rating: 8 Votes
49 months ago

LOL. Yeah, Swift wrote it. Just like she wrote all her songs too.


She actually does. Try again son.
Rating: 7 Votes
49 months ago

all she really is doing is pimping her music out to the service that pays her the most. When there is a threat to her monetary gain, she issues a Tweet or "open letter", and she secure millions of more profit, period.


You say this as if she doesn't have a right to set a price for her work. It's a free market. Power to her.
Rating: 6 Votes
49 months ago
What I love about all this is how everyone is claiming Swift is a saint, but all she really is doing is pimping her music out to the service that pays her the most. When there is a threat to her monetary gain, she issues a Tweet or "open letter", and she secures millions of more profit, period.

"Taylor Swift Inc." couldn't care if indie artists gets paid during a trial period of Apple Music, "Taylor Swift Inc." wanted their rightful dues, period.
Rating: 6 Votes
49 months ago
Looks like the first surge of her album streaming are over, so the label had to put a statement out to improve performance.
I still don't buy the whole story.....
Rating: 5 Votes
49 months ago
I am amazed about Taylor Swift. She is still very young but seems to have a solid business sense. Pull out of Spotify, push Apple to pay, and then sign exclusive deal with Apple Music. Not to mention all those gold and platinum records. I am not a fan of her music, but it does seem she is solid in business. Hopefully she stays true and humble (from what I hear) and does not go to the dark side like so many before her.
Rating: 5 Votes

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