Apple Music Reverses Free Trial Decision

The new Apple Music service is set to launch in just over a week, on June 30th to be exact.  Apple will be offering members a three month free trial.  During the first 90 days users will be able to enjoy the new streaming music service for free.  Apple had planned to not pay artist royalties during the first 90 days.  Taylor Swift posted an open letter to Apple yesterday asking them to reconsider their position and within hours they did.  Apple will pay royalties to artists at all times including the free trial period.

Apple Music

Apple Music was announced at their Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) a couple weeks ago on Monday, June 8th.  After years of selling individual songs and fundamentally changing the way the music industry sells music, Apple has decided to jump into the rapidly expanding market of music streaming services.  They will compete with companies like Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, and Pandora.  Along with niche services like Tidal and Digitally Imported.  It will be very interesting to see how the new Apple Music performs in this space.  They have set a goal of over 100 million subscribers.

Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of Internet Services, said that the open letter Taylor Swift posted on Sunday helped change his mind on paying artists during the free trial period.  Here are some exerts from the Tumblr post:

I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.

Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done. I hope that soon I can join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create this music. I think this could be the platform that gets it right.

But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.

I think Apple made the right decision in paying the music labels royalties during the free trial period.  It isn’t as cut and dry as Taylor Swift and other musicians made it sound.  Apple wasn’t just holding out on them during the first 90 days and then paying them the same royalties as other popular streaming service.  Instead they negotiated a higher royalty to offset the trial period.  At the end of the day Apple decided to give both the higher royalties and payments during the free trial period.  I think the decision will help them build trust in the music industry.  While expensive Apple certainly has the money to spend.  As Apple’s Eddy Cue said “We’re in this for the long term.” and their lofty goals match that statement.