Taylor Swift Is A Hypocrite And Apple Has Lost Its Way

taylor-apple

Spotify has long been vilified by the David Lowerys and Taylor Swifts of the industry as the downfall of digital music.  Despite the fact that digital sales had been falling just as rapidly in Canada long before Spotify hit the country.  But that fact disrupts the narrative: Streaming kills sales.  Actually, the facts are, streaming kills piracy.  Yet still, the revenue from streaming has not kept up with the decline in sales revenue.

So artists are scrambling for ways to make more money from their music any way possible.

But what is it saying when Taylor Swift pulls her catalog from Spotify because there’s a free tier (that doesn’t pay enough), but she keeps it up on YouTube?  A service that pays a fraction of what Spotify does and is COMPLETELY free?

It’s contradictory.  And hypocritical.

Now, I commend Ms. Swift for her Tumblr post which got the largest company in the world to change course.  But, what is it saying that Apple first made the decision not to pay artists for use of their work to help Apple’s own promotional campaign, and then stood by that decision while Independent artists, labels and managers loudly spoke up against it?  What is it saying that the only thing that convinced Apple to do what is right by the artists and songwriters that gives Apple the content they need to sell their products, was the threat of the largest artist in the world withholding her music?

+Apple Agrees To Pay All Artists Royalties During Free Trial

This is not a mere oversight.  Apple, which has nearly $200 BILLION cash on hand, in their pocket, thought they would exploit artists, who struggle as it is, to acquire paying customers for Apple’s service, with a “hey, help a brother out.  We’ve scratched your back, now scratch ours.”  Except Apple hasn’t ever scratched anyone’s back.  They’ve provided a great service, and taken a hefty commission.  If Apple gave every artist $50,000 to record an album, then sure, I’d say, let’s allow Apple to exploit our music for free for 3 months to help them, like they helped us.  But Apple hasn’t paid us anything other than 70% of our music sales from iTunes.

Sure, Eddy Cue, the guy leading the Apple Music front, tried to explain this away as why they would pay 71.5% of their streaming revenue out to rights holders (above the 70% they pay out for iTunes – and just higher than what Spotify pays at 70%, and MUCH higher than what YouTube pays at 55%).  But this explanation from Cue feels more like an excuse than a thought through strategy.  Even if we got 1.5% more, it would take years to offset the money lost in the 3 month promotional period.  Labels can afford that.  Artists, not so much.

And why the secrecy?  Have you learned nothing from the disastrous launch of Spotify in the US just a few years back?  Spotify was lambasted by artists everywhere because Spotify kept its accounting and payments so secretive.  Only when Spotify launched spotifyartists.com did it finally give some artists some peace of mind.  If you want to truly seem like the good guys BE TRANSPARENT with your payment structure.  Right from the start.

So now Apple WILL pay artists for the 3 month trial period? But how much?

71.5% of $0 is still $0.  So are you paying per-stream?  How much per stream?  And then how, exactly, will you calculate per-stream royalty rates per artist when the free trial ends?  Will it be the same formula Spotify utilizes: artists get the fraction of the full pot of money divvied up amongst the number of plays proportionate to everyone else?  Or will an artist who gets 10 listeners (at $10 a month) to stream them exclusively, receive 71.5% of that $100?  Please, be transparent.

Jimmy Iovine seems to have brought the same kind of major label sliminess to Apple that he helped create when he ran Interscope.  This has now become standard practice in the industry: look out for our best interests and f*ck the artists!

He was the one who convinced Apple to showcase the “unsigned artist” who had never released music, had zero internet presence and had never played a live show as the poster child for how great Apple Music will be for unsigned artists.  When in reality, this artist was brought in by Iovine’s old A&R exec from Interscope.  Hardly a working class, unsigned musician. More like, as Complex put it, an “industry plant.”

+Apple Music Shines Spotlight On Unsigned Artist… Who Doesn’t Exist

Mr. Iovine is not helping you, Apple.  Want to truly look out for artists’ best interests?  Ask the artists!

No, not the labels, because they look out for their own best interests.  No, not just major label artists either, because they are caught up in a system where most don’t know which way is up.  Bring together ALL artists: major label, indie label, and (true) unsigned artists.  Don’t know how to find the successful unsigned artists?  Go to Tunecore, CD Baby and DistroKid and find the top sellers/streamers.  They exist, you just have to look for them (and not merely ask Iovine).  Because, if you missed the memo, major labels don’t give two shits about their artists.  Only their bottom lines.

+Want To Know Who The Best Digital Distribution Company Is?

Apple has corrected course on this one.  And today Ms. Swift is the hero.  However if Swift puts her music on Apple Music, keeps it all on YouTube and continues to withhold it from Spotify, it will seem that this was all just a publicity stunt and that she is, in fact, in bed with Apple.

Because what makes YouTube so much better than Spotify when they pay just 55% and Spotify pays 70%?  Spotify is adding video and by years end will add new artist connect features of their own (to help artists engage their fans).  But keep vilifying Spotify and pretending that they are the enemy.

But then this begs the question, if she stands up for the independent artist, why does she demand photographers sign the Concert Photo Authorization Form that allows her company to use the photographer’s work in perpetuity without compensation for promotional purposes?

I truly do appreciate Swift speaking up about this and getting Apple to change course.  But it seems a bit hypocritical and contradictory.

 

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog, Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

63 Responses

  1. Versus

    ” Streaming kills sales. Actually, the facts are, streaming kills piracy.”

    Isn’t it possible that it kills both?
    Furthermore, it doesn’t kill piracy; perhaps it reduces it, but piracy is still a huge ongoing problem
    Also, piracy – real and potential – is repeatedly used as an argument to keep streaming subscription, advertising, and pay-out rates at dismally low levels.

    Reply
    • rvlouie

      Well, it’s a market rate isn’t it? Piracy brought the market rate for digital music to, effectively, $0. That the market rate per-stream is so low shouldn’t be that shocking, but it’s not going to move no matter what without a new statute.

      Reply
      • Versus

        It’s not a “market rate” in the positive sense of the term; the market is warped by the illegal/free black market whatever you wish to call it. That does not allow the market to find a reasonable equilibrium.

        It’s more like “an offer you can’t refuse”.

        Reply
        • rvlouie

          It’s a market-rate in the actual sense of the term and it absolutely is the market finding equilibrium. Quoting The Godfather doesn’t change the facts—this is effectively the current value of recorded in music in the streaming economy.

          Reply
    • Remi Swierczek

      Streaming at current monetization level and delivery and discovery options is WORSE THAN PIRACY!
      It prevents all logical ways of music monetization! STUPID gateway to live income for chosen few.

      Taylor is hypocritical, she is one of the few winners of Daniel Ek’s TURBO NAPSTER.

      Reply
        • Anonymous

          Are you UMG? Defending the greatest event in the music industry history: The arrival and implementation of Daniel Ek’s communist extortion of music goodwill from yourself, STUPID UMG, and all innocent musicians!

          Reply
    • droopus

      Streaming kills piracy? That’s ridiculous. Take the best Pono and Tidal stream and any 4000kbps wav or flac will piss all over it. Streaming is the temporary band aid for the masses.

      I cannot buy music in the same quality I can download for free. You can’t beat that.

      Reply
      • Scott Gilbert

        Excuse me, but maybe I misread what you said: “I cannot buy music in the same quality I can download for free. You can’t beat that.”

        If I understand that correctly, you must have bad hearing. Try a physical CD or even better, vinyl. Digital is all new and shiny, but nothing beats the quality of a real record.

        Reply
        • droopus

          With respect, you’re wrong. A CD is limited to Red Book, which must fit on a 750mb disc. I’m limited to 44.1, and the difference between CD and the multitrack is profound. I have vinyl rips that are 3gb of data at 5000kbps that make CDs sound downright muddy, not to mention the vinyl imaging is preserved. I rip vinyl off a $500,000 reference system with a Transrotor Argus turntable, Koetsu Rosewood and Focusrite A-to-Ds. I also spend a half hour cleaning the vinyl before the rip with a Clearaudio cleaner. I encode losslessly at 24/96 and unless you have equivalent equipment, your vinyl will not sound like one of my rips. I’ll gladly compare one of my vinyl rips to the actual vinyl playing on a 1200 with a Stanton cartridge any day of the week. I don’t even bother ripping Red Book CDs.

          You cannot legitimately buy a track in the quality where anyone can get it for free if they know the source to look for. I’ve been an audio engineer and producer for 30 years – you would know my stuff.

          Need proof? Here’s a 5000kbps vinyl rip (if you wait till the end, you’ll hear the vinyl noise.) Do a spectral analysis if you like, and notice it needs 250mb of data to sound like this. https://goo.gl/3uNFXe

          Reply
        • droopus

          My hearing is fine. Ive been an audio engineer and producer for thirty years. You’d know my work.

          And my statement was exactly as I wrote it. There is no quality for sale that equals what I can get for free. Red Book CD is crap, and always has been. Data size limitations, 44.1khz sampling – no thanks. I only rip vinyl off a reference system using a Transrotor Argus turntable, Koetsu Rosewood cart, Focusrite A-to_Ds, and that’s after a half hour cleaning with a Clearaudio cleaner. It’s then encoded losslessly at 5000kbps and usually wrapped in .flac for convenience. Take the same vinyl and play it on consumer equipment and it won’t even be close to the digital file I just made, and preserves the vinyl warmth and imaging. You an A/B it with the multitrack and won;t be able to tell the difference.

          Granted, this isn’t the typical MP3 garbage shared online, but there is a large community of pro audio guys and audiophiles who demand better sound than is obtainable anywhere online. For us, my statement holds true. Nothing available commercially sounds like a hi resolution vinyl rip off a reference system.

          Would you like an example? Here’s a 24/96 vinyl rip running at about 5000kbps. That much data takes up 250mb, which is why you will never see stuff of this quality online, (and definitely not on CD) except at places pro audio guys hang out. If you doubt it’s off vinyl, wait till the end of the track, where you’ll hear the vinyl noise.

          https://goo.gl/3uNFXe

          Reply
          • Pat

            While there may be a sizable community who cares about audio quality, it’s not enough to move the needle from the business end of things. Unfortunate reality.

  2. Versus

    “But what is it saying when Taylor Swift pulls her catalog from Spotify because there’s a free tier (that doesn’t pay enough), but she keeps it all up on YouTube?”

    Is this correct? Swift keeps all her music on YouTube, or only a small fraction of it?

    Reply
      • Anonymous

        …. but you can get the rest anyway by searching youtube for it

        Reply
          • Ari Herstand
            Ari Herstand

            Regardless of how much of her music is up there, she willingly puts it up on a service that ONLY has a free tier and pays artists pittance. AND if she really is sticking up for independent artists, she would boycott YouTube as well because most other artists’ songs ARE ALL on YouTube whether they like it or not. These artists don’t have the powerhouse team that Swift has to be able to get the songs removed instantly (if that’s what they wanted).

            And remember that YouTube says (then retracts, then says again, then changes their mind…) it will remove artists who don’t agree to the Music Key service terms? I don’t think artists should boycott YouTube, but I’m saying Swift is being hypocritical for boycotting some services and not others and claiming she is sticking up for the independent artists who don’t have the power to speak up, when she only does that in some cases.

            Again, her letter is commendable – especially because it got Apple to do the right thing, but where is the consistency? And why does she have a similar, power-grab/f-the-artist clause in her photog contract?

          • steveh

            My understanding is that Swift is NOT signed up to Music Key, but is able simply to maintain her own video channel for her own promotional videos – which was the original point of Youtube in the first place.

          • Versus

            “These artists don’t have the powerhouse team that Swift has to be able to get the songs removed instantly (if that’s what they wanted).”

            Isn’t there a way to set YouTube to automatically block uploads of one’s songs, via ContentID, immediately?

          • Jay Gilbert

            There’s room for everyone’s opinion. We should all welcome apposing views. But when you resort to name-calling behind an anonymous post you’re checking your credibility at the door.

      • Versus

        Then that is a very different situation from having all her music up on YouTube.
        The YouTube videos also serve as promotion for the rest of her catalogue, which one has to pay for elsewhere, no?

        Reply
    • Anon

      You Tube has horrible sound quality. How is that comparable to anything?

      Maybe we should reduce our Apple Music/Crapify content to 8 bit in response.

      Reply
      • Versus

        Sadly it seems that the average listener doesn’t care about sound quality.
        How did this happen?
        What happened to “high fidelity”?
        Now it is less expensive than ever to achieve high fidelity playback, but listeners lost interest. I recall a time when the average listener did care about sound quality, wanted a good stereo system. Now that same average listener is content with pathetic earbuds or a sorry iPod/iPhone dock. What happened?

        Reply
  3. HamsteadBloke

    What is it saying? It’s saying that video viewing and audio streaming are two entirely different outlets and experiences. Stop tilting at windmills Ari.

    Reply
  4. Dan

    How is no one mentioning the other massive reason Taylor Swift is a hypocrite:

    First she lashes out at Spotify and streaming services for paying artists a worthless amount.
    Then she lashes out at Apple music (a streaming service) for not threatening to not pay her for three months…

    How can you be upset that you’re not getting any money from streaming and then get upset when a streaming service isn’t going to pay you? Wouldn’t you just not care about three months of pay if you thought that streaming royalties were worthless?

    Reply
    • Nina Ulloa

      she lashed out at spotify for the free tier, and for requiring any artist on spotify to make their music available on the free tier.

      Reply
  5. Nina Ulloa

    “But what is it saying when Taylor Swift pulls her catalog from Spotify because there’s a free tier (that doesn’t pay enough), but she keeps it all up on YouTube? A service that pays a fraction of what Spotify does and is COMPLETELY free. It’s contradictory. And hypocritical.”

    I don’t think it’s hypocritical at all. The only Taylor Swift tracks on YouTube are her official music videos, and it’s damn near impossible to find her other tracks on YT.

    Reply
    • Nina Ulloa

      I do think she should pay photogs every time she uses their photos. But as for not letting the photogs own the photos, I think it makes sense that she wants to keep full control of her brand.

      Reply
  6. Digital Puke

    I’m happy she’s standing up on this topic, but she does the same thing to the freelance photographers that she hires. I just read her contract for photographers, and she’s definitely setting a double standard- it’s okay to unfairly pay photographers for reproductions of their work, but not musicians.

    Reply
    • DavidB

      She doesn’t ‘hire’ freelance photographers. If freelance photographers want to take photographs at her concerts, on private property (the concert venues), they need permission. Some artists (or their management) refuse permission to all photographers except ‘official’ photographers with exclusive rights. Others, apparently including Taylor Swift, give passes to a wider range of photographers, but subject to conditions. I doubt that there is anything unusual in her conditions. In any case she is under no obligation to issue passes at all.

      Reply
  7. Anonymous

    At the end of the day, her reason for the letter to Apple probably had more to do with the tremendous free publicity she is receiving than the money or helping others out. She is looking like a saint through all of this for simply writing a few paragraphs similar to what others had been saying for weeks.

    It also seems very likely that Apple was already planning to pay and simply hadn’t announced it yet. This all went down over the weekend. I highly doubt they simply decided to change their policy and contracts on a Sunday because of a letter Ms. Swift posted online.

    Reply
  8. Peter

    Surely the bigger issue that will have a bigger benefit in the long run is not in fact the 3 month tier however the fact that bands on independent labels get a lower per play amount from streaming services.

    The industry is dominated too much by major labels who are self serving as well as organisations such as the BPI who are in their pockets.

    Reply
  9. kevin

    ari, i’m usually with you but not here.

    bottom line, it’s her brand and her content. if she wants to tell apple to go pound sand but wants to release content on youtube, that’s her choice and her consent.

    it’s not hypocritical in the least. prior to the application of leverage, apple intended to use artist content to win support for new service and new hardware all without consent or compensation. how does that compare with an artist voluntarily placing their music on youtube?

    same goes for the weak attempt by the photographer to lump taylor swift in with apple due to “rights grab” clauses in contracts. she’s attempting to manage and maintain control of her brand. why give a freelance bum the ability to sell (or manufacture) merch with her likeness if the publisher doesn’t use his pics?

    Reply
  10. Steve

    Taylor video may have premium cpm rates on youtube. And she… or her videos may make more money per 1000 views than on Spotity.
    The streams killed not only piracy, but also the also the sales…

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    Hm, is it really necessary to give the microphone to every nutcase in town?

    Nobody thinks Swift is a ‘hypocrite’… 🙂

    Reply
  12. Anonymous

    “But then this begs the question, if she stands up for the independent artist, why does she demand photographers sign the Concert Photo Authorization Form that allows her company to use the photographer’s work in perpetuity without compensation for promotional purposes?”

    Every artist should sign that.

    Did you sign it, Ari?

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    So Ms. Swift should work for free for photographers, but not for Apple?

    I didn’t know you were a hypocrite, Ari.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Next: Models should work for free.

      They don’t actually work. They just, like, stand there. Take a lot of drugs. Get money for nuthin’.

      Reply
  14. Antinetter

    Instead of this hype, I WISH this website would publish current streaming rates and recommendations
    of the various services. Lots of talk about Apple, and Spotify, but what about Amazon Prime, Google Play, Tidal, Deezer, Rdio, etc etc,

    Reply
  15. BullShit

    I have never read so much crap in one place before.

    Streaming kills sales. Piracy did not kill sales.

    Streaming is good for the Googles and Apples and Sonys of the world, but it’s worse than torrents for musicans, bands, songwriters, etc etc. No one can make a living at .000000x or whatever, but if you’re a huge company that’s OK, because they don’t do anything but reap a little from everything.

    F That.

    Opt Out.

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    Just when you think Paul is running a decent site, he lets stuff like this on his page.

    Stop shooting yourself, Paul.

    Really. Just stop hurting yourself.

    Reply
    • There is something...

      LOL ! Paul is the one posting stuff proven to be total BS like the “Apple will take down your iTunes songs if you don’t sign with Apple Music” stuff.

      I think it’s in fact the opposite, Ari is trying to reach the same trolling level than Paul.

      It’s funny to see how TS was the savior of the music industry till yesterday, and now she just joined the evil side of the business and must be blamed for everything like Spotify, Google, Apple, Samsung, Universal, Sony Music…

      Reply
  17. Steven

    This is nonsense. the main problem with streaming is the formula for how revenues are shared with lesser artists. I never listen to her music but she grabs a significant portion of my monthly streaming subscription $s.

    Reply
  18. Appearing Tonight

    You all sound pretty pathetic whining on about Taylor but reality is she uses her position for the good of all, something the male musical community has failed to do miserably (can anyone say David Grohl? Oh he is to busy worrying about selling out a stadium somewhere overseas) . . . . . .

    Reply
  19. T-Swizzle

    We still need Taylor to fix Apple’s non-interactive radio payments (e.g. Pandora-style). As noted in prior posts, if a user is part of Apple’s iCloud, then per Exhibit K (Radio Service), Section 1(o) of the Apple agreement any streams to that user are considered “Non-Royalty Bearing”.

    Since most of Apple’s users are using iCloud (whether they know it or not), Apple will not be paying for the majority of their radio streams.

    Reply
  20. Talesin

    As an artist, I find this site’s fixation on cash and “x corp is screwing you!” offensive, pathetic and whiny.
    Nobody forces you to accept a contract from anyone.

    Don’t like it?
    Go elsewhere.

    Greedy, insufferable corporations?
    Go elsewhere – or start your own.

    We need less bitching and more doing.

    Reply
  21. don

    oh dear. let’s at least wait a week or so and enjoy the sweet little country girl’s mind-boggling victory against the evil behemoth before we attack, shall we?

    Reply
  22. Chris Daniels

    Well, no, streaming does not kill piracy.There are several reports that have shown that idea to be false…so far. And yes, downloading/ownership is declining and streaming is rising. But more to the point. Apple, Spotify or any streaming model you pick pays the owner of the recording about .005 per stream. Let’s not even go into the songwriter. I don’t know what the average number of times you have listened to your favorite song, but let’s just say 1,000 times. The master recording owner (label, indie artist, Taylor Swift – whomever you use as your example) gets 50 cents for that 1,000 streams. If they bought it on iTunes the master recording owner would make about 15 cents more … and if they bought a physical version – LP or CD – the would get approximately 10 times the revenue from that one song. You can make all the arguments you want about the beauty, ease, accessibility and infinite catalogue offered through Spotify, iTunes or other streaming services … but the numbers are pretty grim.

    So, yes, thanks Taylor for sticking up for the owners of recordings – but the sad fact is the sale of recordings – whether stream (let’s call it a short term loan) or even the wildly extravagant ownership model, is no longer a revenue source worth discussing for the average touring music artist. What is going to be interesting is to see how “hard goods” sold this summer concert season.

    Reply
    • superduper

      Calling the ownership model “wildly extravagant” is a wildly exaggerated statement.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      What does radio pay for 1,000 spins of the same sound recording? $0.00. Lets get Taylor on her soapbox for that discussion too.

      Reply
  23. DavidB

    I see that Swift’s management have responded to that photographer’s criticism, emphasising that the agreement photographers are required to sign (in return for permission to take concert photos) does not prohibit republication of the photos in more than one publications(but does require consent for this), and does not claim copyright over the photos, unlike (e.g.) Lady Gaga. Full comment here:
    http://flavorwire.com/524584/taylor-swift-claims-misrepresentation-over-hypocritical-concert-photography-policy

    Reply
  24. droopus

    My hearing is fine. Ive been an audio engineer and producer for thirty years. You’d know my work.

    And my statement was exactly as I wrote it. There is no quality for sale that equals what I can get for free. Red Book CD is crap, and always has been. Data size limitations, 44.1khz sampling – no thanks. I only rip vinyl off a reference system using a Transrotor Argus turntable, Koetsu Rosewood cart, Focusrite A-to_Ds, and that’s after a half hour cleaning with a Clearaudio cleaner. It’s then encoded losslessly at 5000kbps and usually wrapped in .flac for convenience. Take the same vinyl and play it on consumer equipment and it won’t even be close to the digital file I just made, and preserves the vinyl warmth and imaging. You an A/B it with the multitrack and won;t be able to tell the difference.

    Granted, this isn’t the typical MP3 garbage shared online, but there is a large community of pro audio guys and audiophiles who demand better sound than is obtainable anywhere online. For us, my statement holds true. Nothing available commercially sounds like a hi resolution vinyl rip off a reference system.

    An example? Here’s a 24/96 vinyl rip running at about 5000kbps. That much data takes up 250mb, which is why you will never see stuff of this quality online, (and definitely not on CD) except at places pro audio guys hang out. If you doubt it’s off vinyl, wait till the end of the track, where you’ll hear the vinyl noise.

    https://goo.gl/3uNFXe

    Reply
  25. Anonymous

    Say what you want to say….but the bottom line is the money. Taylor is all about the money. Sure she has done some good deeds but that is about keeping her good image.( which helps her make more money) At the end of the day though it’s all about the money….nothing more and nothing less.

    Reply
  26. obertscloud

    I agree with you with some of your comments, but I wanted to give you an update on some points.

    She probably decided more press with Apple than Spotify, and I think she and other’s already complained about Spotify and it didn’t go anywhere.. so your right it was a public stunt.

    200 Billion in Cash is Gone ! Last year they decided what to do with it, and they gave it not to start new jobs in the USA or help any cause, they paid the executives and the largest stock shareholders (more executives) with it. It is now gone for the most part.

    this video explains it https://youtu.be/WAOA5bYG3rI

    Reply
  27. Sabrina

    Not a surprise.
    She thinks she’s so clever because lots of the media are in her pockets, but they underestimate real people’s intelligence. And it’s the media’s reputation that suffers.
    Anyone with a brain can see through that woman’s fake goodism. Self serving cynical hypocrite. A publicity stunt. Like her charity donations that never fail to be announced to the press… Yes, because we are stupid!

    Reply

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