Ms. Swift vs Apple Inc.

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Taylor Swift’s open letter to Apple inspires quick policy change.

Sean Stoker | Opinions Editor | @theroyalthey


Endlessly parodied as the constantly-breaking-up superstar who sings about love lost, Taylor Swift is exceeding her detractors’ expectations by taking on one of the most powerful companies in the world: Apple.

In February, Apple’s worth blasted past the $700 billion-dollar mark. For a little perspective, that’s more than four times the cost of the entire Apollo Space Program.

Recently, Apple has decided to dabble in the territory of Pandora and Spotify by getting into the music streaming game, debuting Apple Music in late June.

Swift’s bone of contention comes from Apple’s original decision to forego paying the creators of the music it was streaming for the duration of the three-month free trial of Apple Music.

Swift broached the subject on her Tumblr, in a June 21 post titled “To Apple, Love Taylor”. She was quick to affirm her respect for the company’s innovation and the bulk of its business decisions but was very critical of the decision not to pay creators, saying, “I find this shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.”

Swift stated that her decision to speak out against Apple was not motivated by her own want of money. Being honest with herself and the public, she admitted that her own career was not in trouble, having recently published her fifth album and being able to support herself and her team through live shows. What she claims she is most concerned about are the small artists just starting out in their career.

“We know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the 3 month trial period…even if it is free for the fans trying it out. Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing.”

Apparently, Swift’s open letter caused swift action on Apple’s part, as later that very day, they decided to reverse their decision and actually pay the makers of the music for their work.

I’m not ashamed to say that I genuinely enjoy Taylor’s catchy, if somewhat overplayed, pop ballads. I’ll even say that I believe she is a rather smart woman, despite the ditzy persona much of the internet picks up on. It takes a lot of guts as an artist to paint a target on your back by publicly disputing the bad choices of one of your biggest distributors, especially a corporation as big as Apple. And it takes a great deal of brains to write words so convincing that the 12th largest company in the world rethinks a major business decision.

This was no small feat of Taylor’s, and for now at least, she has earned my respect.