Taylor Swift and Apple: The back story
Remember Taylor Swift’s “love letter” to Apple? Well, here’s the back story, at least from the point of view of her record label.
Speaking at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen on Monday evening, record label executive Scott Borchetta—who discovered and signed Swift when she was only 14 years old—told the audience that the conversation actually started between him and Apple in the days preceding Swift’s letter. The iPhone maker was on the cusp of launching its new streaming music service, and had planned not to pay artists during an initial three-month period in which the service would be available free to consumers.
“‘I can’t support this, you need to pay us from the first stream,'” Borchetta, the CEO of Big Machine Records, says he told Apple execs. “And those conversations led up to the weekend where Taylor posted the blog.”
According to Borchetta, he hadn’t spoken to Swift earlier in the week, and was caught by surprise when she let him know about her letter.
“She literally texted me and said, ‘Don’t be mad,’ with the link,” Borchetta said. “She was in Europe. I responded and said, ‘You don’t have any idea how good your timing is right now.'”
After Swift’s letter made huge waves, Borchetta’s conversations with Apple quickly turned to his (and, presumably, artists’) favor. The following day, a Monday, he had a conference call with Apple executives Jimmy Iovine and Eddy Cue. By that evening, the iPhone maker, which was just about to launch its new streaming music service, agreed to Swift’s requests: To pay artists from the very first stream, even during the three month period in which the service would be free to consumers.
“You haven’t launched yet,” Borchetta says he told Apple. “You can do the right thing. And if you do the right thing the artist community globally is going to look at you as the good guys.”
Scooter Braun, the founder of entertainment and media company SB Projects (and perhaps better known as Justin Bieber’s manager), also participated in the conversation on Monday evening. According to the talent manager, many more artists and music industry executives were protesting Apple’s controversial policy behind the scenes, though Swift’s letter gave the “fight” the extra push it needed.
“Everyone was fighting that fight,” Braun told the audience. “Taylor pushed it over the edge. She made them aware it wasn’t just the executives. Sometimes it’s good to hear the artists saying it.”
For more coverage from this year’s Fortune Brainstorm Tech, click here.