On Nov. 3, 2014, Taylor Swift pulled her entire catalog of music off of Spotify, a music streaming service. She based her decision on the fact that Spotify offers free streaming, claiming that the company doesn’t pay artists enough to justify doing so.
With a planned release date of June 30, 2015, Apple Music, a similar streaming service, was going to be released without Swift’s latest album, 1989.
On June 21, she wrote a letter to Apple to express her concern about the three month free trial that would be offered to all users.
In her letter, she wrote, “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 of free streaming has a minimal effect on artists that have already achieved success, such as Swift. She has made 80 million dollars in 2015, putting her in the top ten highest paid celebrities of the year, according to Forbes.
Why, then, would she care about not making any money during Apple Music’s three month trial?
She offered an explanation in her letter, saying, “This is not about me… This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success.”
Taylor Swift used an opportunity to capitalize on her celebrity status to help others that are trying to find their path in the music industry. Later on the day that Swift posted her letter, Apple announced it would pay royalties to artists during the trial period.
A few days later, she agreed to let 1989 be streamed through Apple Music, while the album, along with the rest of her discography, remains off of Spotify.
Swift has faced some criticism for pulling her music from Spotify and for initially refusing to release permission for Apple music to stream 1989. Critics claimed it was a move motivated by hope for increased album sales.
However, Swift was already making money off of streaming from Spotify. Spotify pays the artist a fraction of a cent per time their song is played. Swift’s music is popular enough for that to reach millions of dollars of revenue for her, debunking the theory that money was the driving force in her decision to remove her discography from the streaming service.
As her exchange with Apple showed, Swift is genuinely interested in supporting her fellow musicians, and effectively uses her celebrity standing to do so.