Apple Music, Taylor Swift style -- duplicity, triumph or cynical PR stunt?

If she's short of cash, she could always go back to farming Christmas trees

Ohhh snap. Cook and Cue got pwned, Taylor Swift style. Apple have executed a 180-volte-face.

Swiftie's moaning about losing out on money from free trial streaming seems to have tugged at Tim and Eddy's heartstrings: Cupertino had some sort of late-night Damoclean conversion to the idea that artists should get paid by Apple Music.

Wait, isn't this just a carefully timed and meticulously planned PR stunt? Nah, surely Apple wouldn't be that cynical...

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers pick holes in the story.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. [Updated 11.30am EDT]

Aunty streams peace unto nation:

Apple Music has reversed its payment policy. ... Apple says it will pay artists for music streamed during trial periods.

Swift had said the plan was "unfair...shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike [Apple]." ... Executive Eddy Cue...said they had already been been hearing "a lot of concern"...before Swift spoke out. But he said, "We never looked at it as not paying them."

Independent record label Beggars [said] it struggled "to see why rights owners and artists should bear...Apple's customer acquisition costs."  MORE

At times like this, Apple PR turns to friendly scribblers, such as Peter Kafka, Esq.: [You're fired -Ed.] 

I just got off the phone with Eddy Cue. [He] says that Swift’s letter, coupled with complaints from indie labels and artists...prompt[ed] the change.

Cue says Apple will pay rights holders for the entire three months of the trial period...on a per-stream basis, which he won’t disclose.  MORE

But Josh Constine sounds slightly cynical:

The move should help it improve the public perception of Apple Music and potentially pull in some artists that were boycotting [it, including] artists managed by Beggars.

Spotify...already pays artists royalties during all its trial periods. ... While it might be nice to think of Swift as a champion for all musicians... it’s a little suspicious.  MORE

And Nathan Downour calls "BS":

She’s greedy and out of line. Artists have never and will never make money from an album or streaming. They make it from tshirt and product sales and touring.

She is already insanely wealthy and 3 months of “unpaid” work is an absolute joke. Unpaid. Lol. ... The 3 months of free trial is to bring people into the turn making you more money. But you're 25 and know it all Taylor. How about iTunes pulls all the song previews? ... Wouldn't want to have that 1:25 played for free.  MORE

Meanwhile, Anil Dash calls it "an extraordinary promise":

Next, @taylorswift13's Thoughts on Flash..

The real story is that Apple has so much money, and the royalties at stake are so small, that changing the policy is trivial. ... Cheap cost for this much good PR.

How will Apple make sure the labels pay their artists?  MORE

Oh, **** me! Nilay "****" Patel feels ****ing strongly, too:

How badly did Apple **** this up to capitulate this hard on a Sunday night?

This is cold calculation against a bad press cycle. ... Not even a press release, or even a wait-for-it joint statement. Just complete walkback. What happened behind the scenes here? ... How did it possibly get to this point?

The key in life is to be so good that your massive ****ups seem like part of the plan.  MORE

Update: Bobby Owsinski calls it a win-win-win:

In the end everyone is a winner.

Consumers will find a larger catalog. ... Artists, songwriters, publishers and record labels will get paid. ... And Apple Music gets some positive spin right when it needs it most.  MORE

You have been reading IT Blogwatch by Richi Jennings, who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don't have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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