Not Everyone Is Cheering Taylor Swift's Apple 'Win'
Some say she didn't actually change anything
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2015 10:04 AM CDT
Updated Jun 23, 2015 10:59 AM CDT
In this May 17, 2015 file photo, Taylor Swift arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.   (Photo by Eric Jamison/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – Many people have been fawning over Taylor Swift since her open letter to Apple convinced the company to do an about-face and pay musicians for music streamed during a user's Apple Music free trial period. But a number of people, chief among them Pandora's former chief technology officer, are now pointing out some problems with the idea that this is somehow a victory for artists:

  • That ex-CTO, Tom Conrad, posted a series of tweets yesterday pointing out that Spotify, YouTube, Pandora, and other music streaming services already pay artists for music streamed during free trial periods, Time reports. Apple's 180 "simply puts it at parity with all other players," he wrote, adding, "Reminder: Apple uses music to make billions off hardware. Artists see nothing from this. Swift's letter and Apple's response is mostly theater. ... We shouldn't herald this move as progress. It's status quo."
  • Plus, he notes, there's the fact that Swift has never gone after terrestrial radio (on which her career was built and from which she doesn't get any money), and—though she's criticized Spotify for "devaluing music"—she's never pulled her music off YouTube, which "certainly devalues music if Spotify does," Conrad writes.

  • That's because Swift can't afford to pull her music off YouTube—the site is too huge, and her fans would revolt, writes Nilay Patel in a post at The Verge titled, "Taylor Swift vs Apple: nobody wins." As Patel points out, "It's only when the services have meaningful leverage that artists back down," and "Apple can't afford to have Swift taking shots at Apple Music, while Swift can just sit back and let her army of ultra-devoted fans actually buy her albums from iTunes proper." But the only result of her campaign was to essentially ensure Apple offers "the same fundamental deal to artists and labels as the much-vilified Spotify."
  • And she wasn't alone in achieving that result, as NPR notes: Though she's getting most of the credit, independent music labels also played a big role in convincing Apple to change its mind.
  • Meanwhile, Mashable notes that Swift also had to respond to a freelance photog who accused her of doing the same thing to the people who photograph her shows.
Still a Taylor fan? Click to watch her shut down a Grammys reporter or to find out why she walks backward.