Blog Ipsa Loquitur

Published on under Shakedowns Gonna Shake Shake Shake

I didn’t necessarily agree with the points she made in her Wall Street Journal Op-Ed last summer, but Taylor Swift’s open letter to Apple this week is pretty solid:

I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.

This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success.

Now, look. I’m old enough to remember when the RIAA went around suing kids and taking their college savings in retaliation for downloading songs on Napster and Kazaa. They’re a cartel which has lobbied for maximalist copyright laws and which exploits the artists in their employ by paying pennies on the dollar. I have as little sympathy as possible for the RIAA.

But the US music industry’s annual revenues are about $15 billion, and Apple is the largest company in the world; they have $193.5 billion in cash and securities just lying around. Swift is right: Apple can afford to pay, and the artists deserve to get paid.