'Don't Be Mad': Scott Borchetta Talks Apple Negotiations, How Taylor Swift Told Him About Her Letter
What really went down leading up to Taylor Swift’s show-stopping Father’s Day letter to Apple regarding streaming payments during Apple Music’s free trial? At Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech event on Tuesday, Big Machine label boss Scott Borchetta said he’d been in talks with Apple leading right up to the Sunday of Swift’s big statement, and that she gave him no warning of what she was about to unleash. "She literally texted me and said 'Don't be mad' with a link," he explained.
Borchetta said he sent Swift’s letter to Jimmy Iovine and other players at Apple and told them they still had time to "do the right thing" before launching Apple Music. "By nine o'clock that night they agreed to literally pay from the first spin."
Here’s Borchetta’s entire rundown of that day:
"The conversation started with myself and the executives of Apple, just as a label group conversation of 'I can't support this. You need to pay us from the first stream.' And those conversations were leading up to the weekend where Taylor posted the blog. She and I hadn't spoken that week. So she literally texted me and said 'Don't be mad' with a link. So, I click through and read it and responded back -- she was in Europe -- and said 'you don't know how good your timing is right now. Here's the conversations I'm having with Jimmy, Ian at Apple.' I was set to have a big conference call the next day on Monday, this was Sunday Father's Day. And through me sending the blog to Jimmy and Eddy [Cue] and them getting immediate feedback, my conversations were like 'Here's the good news, you haven't launched yet. You can do the right thing. And if you do the right thing, the artist community are going to look at you as the good guys.' It's a rare opportunity when you can do something for the greater good. So throughout the day, [we had] several conversations and by 9'clock that night they agreed to literally pay from the first spin."
Scooter Braun, who joined Borchetta in the panel, said Swift’s stance pushed Apple "over the edge" towards paying during the free trial. "Taylor made them aware that this wasn't just the executives and sometimes it's good to hear the artist say that," he said. "And when Taylor said it, it made them realize the entire artist community are being vocal. And Jimmy's whole philosophy with Beats 1 is artist friendly, artist first and if they didn't do what they did they would've been in a lot of trouble."
You can watch the Swift-related portion of Borchetta and Braun's interview here. They also spoke candidly about their slightly differing views on Spotify and its freemium-loving CEO Daniel Ek. Watch below: