So as we know from this morning’s Ticker, Taylor Swift worked her Tay Tay magic and got Apple to change its policy surrounding payment for artists who are streamed during the three-month free introductory period on Apple Music. In a nutshell, artists and producers weren’t going to be paid. Swift threatened to pull her hit record 1989 in a Tumblr post yesterday called To Apple, Love Taylor, arguing that, “These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.”
Before the day was through, Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, was on Twitter telling Swift — and the world — that they were going to change the policy, ending the stream of tweets with:
We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple
— Eddy Cue (@cue) June 22, 2015
Oh my. So Taylor Swift bent the ear of Apple, one of the biggest brands in the world, and got them to change the way they’ll be doing business. It’s something that, if you think about it, competition from Jay Z and his coterie of associates on Tidal haven’t been able to do. (Though if you recall, fair pay for the artists was one of the driving forces behind the purchase of the service.)
Clearly, Taylor Swift is one of the most popular artists in the business right now. When she speaks, people listen. Her voice is a powerful one. But besides that, her open letter was really persuasive, offering lessons to anyone who has to make a tough sell to a demanding audience.
Here are three reasons the letter works so well.
-She doesn’t bash Apple. Swift couldn’t gone in aggressively, noting how much money Apple makes and how her letter would be followed by even more action. Instead, she acknowledges from the jump that the relationship she has with the company is a good one. She notes the success that the company has had, which recognizes Apple’s innovation. The issue that she has with Apple is a very specific one. Her letter sought to address that free trial period rather than rant about the state of the music industry more broadly and Apple’s role in it. By keeping focus, it became something that both sides could address and resolve.
-She acknowledges that she’s rich. It’s interesting in this time when personal branding and self-promotion are at an all-time high that sometimes people get a little shy about saying they’re wealthy. Not our Tay Tay. She comes out and says plainly, “Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows.” The problem, she says, is for the newbie and the up-and-comer who can’t afford to give anything away for free. Make no mistake. Taylor Swift is about her money and recognizes all that a dollar can do. She strikes me as a great businesswoman. But by turning attention to the vast number of indie artists, she immediately has support for her argument and she doesn’t come off simply as a wealthy woman looking to make her bank account bigger.
-At the heart of her letter is the idea of fairness. “Just” and “fair” are ideas that most people can get behind. Even when there’s a difference of opinion, using those words will prompt the listener to think in terms of compromise. “I hope that soon I can join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create this music,” she writes. “…We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.” It would be difficult for Apple to push back on that.
In the end, even though a lot of people today are talking about how Swift made Apple change their policy, it’s more like she opened the door for them to be a good actor and to look reasonable in this situation. Ultimately, it’s all a win-win.