Taylor Swift and Apple Music have spent the last week embroiled in a passive-aggressive Tweetwar over artist payments on Apple’s upcoming streaming service. Apple caved to Swift’s demands on the weekend, and now the singer has made good, confirming that her latest album 1989 will be coming to Apple Music.
After the events of this week, I've decided to put 1989 on Apple Music...and happily so.
In case you're wondering if this is some exclusive deal like you've seen Apple do with other artists, it's not.
That’s a big win for Apple, because 1989 is not currently available on any other streaming service. Swift doesn’t mention whether she’ll be sharing the 1989 with other services, but explicitly pointing out that it’s not an exclusive deal with Apple leaves the door open.
Although this is certainly good news for Apple (and Taylor’s music-streaming fans), it’s also a confusing move given the singer’s history with streaming music. Swift famously pulled her entire back catalogue from Spotify last year, slamming the service’s underpayment of artists.
The thing is, Apple Music — from what we know — pays only fractionally more to artists, under exactly the same kind of revenue-sharing model as Spotify. In fact, thanks to Swift, the only major difference between Apple Music’s payment system and Spotify — the unpaid free trial — is now gone. Either Swift has had a rather abrupt change of heart regarding streaming music, or the singer is being a little less open and altruistic than she’d like to think.