To Taylor, Love Candrina

For those of you who haven’t heard, Taylor Swift has written an open letter to Apple explaining why she would be holding her newest album back from their new streaming service.

She states that the service will be offering three month free trials and, during that time, artists will not be paid for their products. Apple quickly replied, changing their policy, and assuring Taylor and all of her Tumblr feed readers that, indeed, they will now be paying artists for their products during the free offer.

I have a few thoughts on this:

1. Of Course They Should Be Paying

To not pay would be like WalMart telling their BBQ supplier that they’ve decided to not pay the invoice because WalMart is giving away the BBQs as a part of their Summer Madness Sale. What WalMart decides to give away after the order is placed is not really the BBQ supplier’s issue. Likewise, what Apple decides to give away to kick start their new enterprise is really not the artist’s issue, unless an agreement was made beforehand.

2. It’s Okay for You to Want to Be Paid for Your Music

This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. 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. (Taylor Swift via Tumblr)

Taylor, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be fairly paid for the work you’ve done. It is ludicrous for a distributor to expect to pay whenever and in whatever scenario they choose. The supplier always needs to be paid, unless they have previously agreed to waive their fees. Yes, your business is bigger than many other artists but that no less makes you eligible for payment in full.

3. I Love that You Spoke Out for the Less Visible People in the Industry

Eventhough it’s perfectly okay for this to be about you too, I love that you’re choosing to stand up for all the other people integral in the music business but whom we — as the consumer — really know very little about. I include the up and coming artists in that, as you did too.

4. Why Did Apple Not Deserve a Private Talk?

As one of Apple’s biggest artists, did you not feel that they would listen to your concerns if you or your management team made a quick phone call? Were you concerned that you might be able to make a deal for yourself but not for the other artists? Or, did you decide that the easiest way to deal with a business issue was to publicly shame the company with which you had the issue? It worked, certainly, but you’ve publicly called out a business partner with whom you should have been able to have a calm conversation. As one of the biggest artists with the reputation of being a great person, this will probably slide for you, but it would not slide for a lot of other artists, businesses, or people.

5. This Feels A Little Like Bullying

There is certainly a very good place for open letters. For instance, when looking to start a grassroots movement, or to bring awareness to a government policy, or to force action from a corporation who has refused to review and respond to an issue. To start there for a business issue, however, was an example of how social media can be used to force and shame groups into making decisions that may not be right for them. That is, in essence, bullying, no?

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