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  • Amit Banerjee

Taylor Swift: Out for Justice or Money?


You've probably heard recently of the letter Taylor Swift sent to Apple Headquarters regarding her disapproval of the artist compensation methods of the new Apple Music streaming service. She specifically addressed the lack of royalty money given to artists during the free trial period for users of Apple Music. In response, she said that she would not allow Apple Music to provide her music on the streaming service unless they fixed their alleged issue, a threat she ultimately executed with another music streaming service, Spotify. Swift claimed this about why she is withdrawing her music from streaming sites:

This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.

A part of me wants to believe that she actually cares about the artists who will be losing revenue during the 3 month period, but my gut feels that she is just realizing the influence she has (mostly due to her large fan base) and is using sympathy to leverage Apple into increasing her personal wealth. This year, she became the youngest person to be featured in a Forbes Most Powerful Women list. She has a estimated net worth of $200 million, and may just be another perpetrator of American Greed. I feel a similar way about Jay-Z, who complained about the same thing but mainly against Spotify. He has developed a new streaming (in my opinion, overpriced) service called Tidal that will allegedly bring justice to artists. I can't really feel that artists like Jay-Z and Taylor Swift are out to seek justice. They're just artists who have reached the top and are just hungry for more fame, publicity, and money. I really hope I'm wrong about Taylor Swift's intentions and that she is out to advocate for those in the industry who will feel the brunt of self-serving business decisions by Apple. In her letter, she did make this comment:

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

In the end, Apple gave in, and revised its compensation policy to be more generous to the artists especially during the free trial period of Apple Music. Swift's voice was heard. Business is scary. I guess you'll never know people's true intentions.