This article originally appeared in the 6.25.15 issue of Metroland
Apple finally announced that it was going to launch a music
streaming service, years too late.
Here’s the company that single-handedly revolutionized the music
business 10 years ago with the 1-2 punch of the iPod and the iTunes store
announcing, lamely, that it was going to do exactly what Spotify, Rdio,
Rhapsody, etc. have been doing for years.
And are they going to do it better?
Is there a way to
revolutionize pushing a button and hearing a song?
there has been no comprehensive discussion of terms, how is this gonna be
better for artists?
Maybe it will be
Say you’re one of these artists
or labels that’s decided that streaming isn’t such a great thing.
Like all of those artists and labels who’ve
refused to play ball with Spotify, etc.
If you tell Apple you don’t want to stream, will Apple drop you from the
Maybe they’d make an exception for the
Beatles, who they finally got to sell downloads for in 2010, and who presumably
aren’t going to cotton to streaming.
we know about the Apple service is that it will be pay-subscription-only,
probably at $10 a month, which seems to be the going rate.
No ad-supported free tier like Spotify, etc.
And how does Apple expect to compete with
Well, initially it was going to
introduce its service to everybody for free for three months, hoping that
everybody would become so addicted to all of its Apple-crack grooviness that
Spotify’s free tier would fade from memory and people would line up to pony out
$10 a month to feed their Apple habit.
of all, we all know that’s not going to work.
Since the halcyon days of Napster back in 1999 free has been a force to
be reckoned with and it’s not going away.
Second of all, Apple
proposed to do its free trial run on the backs of musicians.
It wasn’t gonna pay them. It figured that
musicians like Apple so darn much that they’d all say, “Sure, we’ll help!
Give our stuff away!
We’re all in this together!”
Here’s a company with more cash than
the US Treasury, and it thinks this is cool?
If you believe that I’ve got some crappy overpriced headphones to sell
Do you think this would have
happened if Steve Jobs were still around?
weren’t paying much attention to this when Taylor Swift, or should we say
Taylor Swift’s people, issued an open letter to Apple, explaining in the most
passive-aggressive way imaginable that Apple wasn’t going to stream her new
album for free.
And no, this wasn’t
about her, it was about the struggling artists, maybe the band that’s releasing
their first album, the struggling song-writer with bills to pay.
And interestingly, she was only holding back
; the other four chart-toppers apparently were fair game for
This was unlike her position with
Spotify, from whom she famously (and stupidly) yanked her entire catalog late
The next day.
Musicians and songwriters will get paid for
Apple’s three month free-for-all.
Probably not much more than Spotify, but who
cares, because Spotify has been the poster child for badness while it struggles
to make its business model work and Apple, albeit suddenly rudderless and clueless,
is still Apple.
Swift is a hero, right?
Or maybe not so much.
On the heels of her staring down Apple came
an open letter to her from a professional concert photographer, calling her out
on her concert photography agreement.
performing artists have long forced photographers to sign onerous contracts in
return for being allowed to shoot in the pit.
You can only shoot for the first couple of songs, you can only use one
photo in one publication, etc.
about brand management.
increasingly stupid since right behind the photographer in the pit are
thousands of people gleefully shooting away with their increasingly powerful
Many photographers I
know sign these agreements, shoot until they’re asked to stop, and then use the
photos for any journalistic / art / portfolio purpose they want.
But it seems that Ms. Swift has taken things
up a notch.
If you want
to shoot a Taylor Swift show, along with the usual nonsensical restrictions,
you grant her the right to use all of your photos royalty-free for “any
non-commercial purpose, including but not limited to publicity and
Last I checked “publicity
and promotion” were commercial purposes, but hey, you know, details schmeetails…
Then, if the photographer doesn’t comply, he
or she can have their film confiscated
and be ejected from the venue.
And the photographer waives all claims for
damage, injury, etc. at the hands of the Taylor Swift goon squad.
Artists working for free?
Paul Rapp is an
early-rising lawyer and musician and advocate for the down-trodden, the
powerless, good bourbon, powerful gasoline, a clean windshield, and a