Attention Mr. Ek: Here’s how you get it done, son.
MTP readers will recall that I said of Spotify’s Taylor Swift debacle that it was unfathomable how Spotify CEO Daniel Ek could allow there to be a Taylor Swift reality that did not involve Spotify. The fact that he did it while renegotiating Spotify’s license with Universal, nominally Taylor’s label, was grounds for termination for cause.
Then came Apple Music, emphasizing an artist-oriented music ecosystem that omits the free tier that has failed so miserably with Spotify. Is it business genius not to copy a failed model? Not really. But there are some really genius aspects to Apple Music that have a lot of promise (such as Connect and the Beats 1 station with Zane, Ebro and Julie). Music genome fans will probably not dig it, but then the Tin Man wanted a heart.
My sense is that the Apple Music service launched without all the deal points fully baked, and God knows that wouldn’t have been the first time that happened. Apple wanted that 90 day royalty free period–meaning Apple wanted artists to take the ride with them on the 90 day trial period.
That was a cringeworthy idea when first proposed and it didn’t go down well. Lots of handwringing, and then Taylor Swift wrote one of her incredible letters–kind of like she did with Spotify.
Here’s the difference: Rather than publicly taunting her, Apple did the right thing. Eddie Cue said, you know, you have a point there. Let’s not do that, thank you for pointing it out to us.
Or more precisely, he said this:
And Taylor said:
“They listened to us.” How gracious.
And that was that. No fuss, no muss. Why?
According to Billboard:
Once the decision was made by Cue and Apple CEO Tim Cook, Cue called Swift on the phone from her tour in Amsterdam. “I let her know that we heard her concerns and are making the changes. We have a long relationship with Taylor so I wanted her to hear directly from us.”
Ahem…”a long relationship with Taylor.” My point exactly.
Because even Apple knows that there cannot be a Taylor Swift reality that does not include Apple Music. They know that Taylor is a thought leader for thousands of artists, if not tens of thousands. And because Apple is by and large an artist friendly environment. They’re smart enough to know when to listen to a good idea from a smart artist. No threats, no lawsuits. Just a polite ask and an equally polite yes.
And that’s why they win.
Oh, and Mr. Ek. Sorry, I forgot you were there. That’s how you get it done, son.