With Apple Music scheduled to launch in a little over a week, Apple still doesn't have all of its ducks in a row. While some reports have indicated that Apple is still engaged in negotiations with record labels, other reports have relayed that a number of artists are extremely miffed that they'll be getting no royalty payments during Apple Music's three-month trial period. Indeed, just last week we highlighted how the head of UK Music, one David Heath, said that a royalty-free trial period will "literally put people out of business."
Indeed, some UK-based Indie labels with some big-name artists were potentially going to balk at Apple Music's terms.
"If you are running a small label on tight margins you literally can't afford to do this free trial business," Heath explained. "Their plan is clearly to move people over from downloads, which is fine, but it will mean us losing those revenues for three months. Apple hasn't thought this through at all and it's not like them. They can't spring a contract like this on us three weeks from release."
Well, in an effort to perhaps stymie what could have been a growing cycle of bad press, Apple over the weekend changed its mind. Eddy Cue, the man responsible for negotiating Apple's various media contracts, sent out a few tweets last night saying that Apple itself will assume responsibility for royalty payments during Apple Music's three-month trial period.
What makes this saga all the more interesting is that Apple's change of heart was prompted by Taylor Swift who, over the weekend, wrote an open letter to Apple chastising it for not caring about the well-being of artists.
#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period— Eddy Cue (@cue) June 22, 2015
We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple— Eddy Cue (@cue) June 22, 2015
What's more, Apple will still pay record labels a higher percentage of subscription fees than the competition, a sticking point Apple only agreed to in exchange for a three-month royalty-free period.
In this scenario, Apple may have won the PR battle, but it will have to delve into its massive bank account as a result.