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Apple Changes Course After Taylor Swift Open Letter: Will Pay Labels During Free Trial

The move comes after Taylor Swift penned an open letter to the hardware giant.

Apple has decided to change course and pay labels for the rights to stream their music during a 90-day free trial. The move comes after Taylor Swift penned an open letter to the hardware giant, writing that she found the company’s insistence “disappointing” and shocking.  

In a tweet, senior vice president of internet services and software Eddy Cue wrote that Apple would pay artists during the 90-day period. 

In an interview with Billboard, Cue elaborated that it was Swift’s letter that turned him around on the issue. “When I woke up this morning and saw what Taylor had written, it really solidified that we needed a change. And so that’s why we decide we will now pay artists during the trial period.”

“I am elated and relieved,” Swift tweeted an hour after Cue’s announcement. “Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us.”

Cue added that Apple had heard the same “concern from a lot of artists,” noting that it was “never our intent” to not compensate artists, rather they were planning to originally negotiate a higher royalty rate, which they will stick with.

Asked if Apple is eating the cost of the 90-day trial period, Cue said, “We’re certainly paying for it, yes. We’re all in.”

Once the decision was made by Cue and Apple CEO Tim Cook, Cue called Swift on the phone from her tour in Amsterdam. “I let her know that we heard her concerns and are making the changes. We have a long relationship with Taylor so I wanted her to hear directly from us.”

Swift’s reaction: “She was thrilled and very thankful and excited to see how quick we responded.”

Cue emphasized the company’s long history with “the music community,” adding, “We have a deep respect for what they do. …We’re in this for the long term.”

Dissent within that community over the free three-month trial had been mounting for weeks. On Sunday, artists from Elvis Costello to Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff to Christina Perri tweeted their support for Swift’s post: Costello wrote (retweeted by Swift), “A word from our future President. Right on. You tell ’em, Girl. E.C.” The British indie community has been particularly vocal: On June 16, Alison Wenham, CEO of the country’s Association of Independent Music, wrote in a letter to members: “The speed at which Apple has introduced their plans and its lack of consultation with the independent music sector over deal terms (despite what Jimmy Iovine might claim) has left us with the uneasy feeling that independents are being railroaded into an agreement that could have serious short-term consequences for our members’ interests.” On June 10, U.S. indie-label trade organization A2IM urged its members “not feel rushed to sign Apple’s current offer.”