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Music industry figures cautiously welcome Apple Music turnaround


Taylor Swift

Apple's decision to pay musicians for songs played on its new streaming service after Taylor Swift threatened a boycott has been given a cautious welcome by music industry figures.

The Shake It Off singer, 25, said yesterday she would hold back her latest album 1989 from Apple Music in protest at the technology giant's "shocking and disappointing" decision not to pay for songs streamed during a three-month trial period.

It prompted an Apple executive to tweet this morning that the musicians would be paid.

Alison Wenham, from the Worldwide Independent Network which represents the independent music industry, said: " The decision from Apple to pay royalties to rights owners during the proposed three-month trial period is clearly a positive and encouraging step and we welcome the beginning of a fair and equitable relationship between Apple Music and the global independent music sector."

Musicians' Union assistant general secretary Horace Trubridge said it was "unclear" exactly what Apple were proposing. He said: "When they say they will pay are they paying the publishers and records labels so they can pay the artists or are they paying the artists direct?

"Also it's one thing if you are an act like Taylor Swift and have that market share and commercial power, but if you're an act with a major label from the 1970s or 1980s which is where a lot of the streamed music is from, you've probably got a crap contract that does not pay out much for streaming."

Earlier today, Apple's senior vice president for internet software and services Eddy Cue said the firm would "always make sure" artists were paid.

He said: " Apple Music will pay artist for streaming, even during customer's free trial period. We hear you Taylor Swift and indie artists. Love, Apple."

Swift's stand against the consumer giant comes after she withdrew her entire catalogue from popular music streaming service Spotify in November.

In a letter published on her website yesterday, Swift said: "I'm sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free three-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."

Swift said she was making a stand not for herself but for new artists or bands, young songwriters and producers who would not be paid for a quarter of a year's worth of plays.

"These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child," she added. "These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.

"I realise that Apple is working towards a goal of paid streaming. I think that is beautiful progress.

"We know how astronomically successful Apple has been and we know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the three-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."

When she took her music off Spotify last year Swift argued that the streaming company's ad-supported free service undermines the premium service, which provides higher royalties for songwriters.

She claimed Spotify was conducting a "grand experiment" which failed to fairly compensate the creators of music.

Swift later tweeted to her 59 million followers: "I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us."

PA Media