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The Internet exploded last weekend when it seemed that two of its darlings, Taylor Swift and Apple, were locked in a titanic battle over artists' rights and fair compensation for music online. Apple was rolling out its latest music innovation, only without the best-selling album of 2014. Who would blink first?
Apple, as it turns out. But now that their public spat seems to be over, what does that mean for tech's biggest company, "the most powerful person in the music industry," and all the little people trailing in the contestants' wake?
Apple was all set to unveil its music streaming service, complete with a free 3-month trial, beginning on June 30th. The only hitch? While listeners got the music for free, so would Apple: the company's initial plan would not pay artists, writers, or producers any royalties for plays during the free trial period.
So Swift took to 2015's version of the soap box, and penned an open letter to Apple, saying as long as they weren't paying her and other artists royalties, the company wouldn't have access to her latest album, "1989." Her missive advocated for "the new artist," "the young songwriter," and "the producer," all of whom wouldn't be paid under Apple's plan, and, unlike Swift, could less afford to work for free: "We don't ask you for free iPhones. Please don't ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation."
Apple relented on the royalties, Swift gave them "1989," and now all the copyright holders for tunes streamed on Apple Music will get paid. This is, after all, why copyrights were created: to ensure that artists could exercise exclusive control over their works and be fairly compensated when others use or distribute their work.
That Swift led the charge against Apple is no surprise: the young icon has been aggressive in protecting both her image and her revenue streams, trademarking her lyrics and buying up porn domains that could try and cash in on her name.
That a company of Apple's size, influence, and profit margin tried to use its far-reaching platform to bully artists into providing free music...well, you can draw your own conclusions.
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