Taylor Swift, Superhero

taylor swift screenshot shake it off

With great power comes great responsibility. In the past couple of days, pop diva Taylor Swift has proven that she understands that maxim as well as Spidey does, perhaps better. Unlike Spidey, she also speaks fluent Tumblr. Here’s the open letter she wrote to Apple there about its new endeavor, #AppleMusic, and its plan not to pay artists for their work during its promotional, free three month trial period.


Apple, a multi-billion dollar multinational corporation, immediately backed down.

“We’ve been watching the discussion for the past week,” [Apple’s media boss Eddy] Cue said. “We want artists to be paid for their work, and when we hear from them — from Taylor or from indie artists — we listen to them. Taylor’s tweet today solidified the issue for us and we decided to make a change.”

Cue said he called Taylor Swift earlier today to tell her Apple had decided to pay artists during the three-month trial period.

“She was thrilled,” Cue said. But Swift has not yet agreed to allow her music on Apple’s new streaming service.

Please bear in mind that, as of earlier this year, Apple was richer than nearly 150 countries. In Q1 of 2015, it made more money than any company in history ever. It is the Jurassic World of capitalist endeavors, the Fifty Shades of Grey of the tech scene. Apple is almost as wealthy as the nation of New Zealand. If Taylor Swift > Apple, that means, by the transitive property, that Taylor Swift > New Zealand.

Actually, that seems about right.

WIRED points out that “only Swift could do this.”

Swift is all taken care of and she knows it. Her post was about the little guys, the people Swift has made a career speaking for and speaking to over the past 10 years. After a decade of building her empire from the flat ground up to that cloud city we’re sure exists somewhere, Swift knew she had the power to demand compensation on behalf of her less influential peers. And she got it. …

In July of last year she made the decision to leave Spotify, and penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal explaining why: “My hope for the future, not just in the music industry, but in every young girl I meet … is that they all realize their worth and ask for it.” She added a declaration that would be echoed almost exactly one year later in her letter to Apple.

“Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free.” Apple can’t say it wasn’t warned.

As seems appropriate for a business negotiation begun on a blogging platform, a chunk of the ensuing conversation — and Apple’s attempts at making brand-related amends — played out in public on Twitter.

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Now people are wondering, What else can Swift do?

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Are there any limits to her abilities?

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More relevantly to the world of streaming, though: are you more likely now to try Apple Music? Or, before you decide, are you going to wait and see what Swift does next?


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