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Taylor Swift: Newest champion for musicians' rights? (+video)

'This is not about me,' Swift wrote in an open letter to Apple Sunday. 'This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success.'

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    Taylor Swift poses in the press room with the awards for top Billboard 200 album for “1989" in this file photo. The musician announced on Sunday that she would pull the album from Apple's new streaming service in a protest over proper compensation for artists.
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Taylor Swift, the 25-year-old pop sensation, has emerged a champion of independent musicians and new talent with her widely-publicized actions to take on large corporations for not paying artists fairly for their work.

Ms. Swift published an open letter to Apple on Sunday declaring that she would withhold her album “1989” from the company’s new streaming service because of the company’s decision not pay artists during the service’s three-month trial phase.

“I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3-month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company,” Swift wrote.

Within 24 hours, she had convinced one of the world's largest companies to change its mind.

It may seem strange that Swift, who already has global celebrity and scores of hit singles, would be such a vocal advocate for artists' rights, but the musician has a history of sticking up for proper compensation for musicians.

“This is not about me,” she wrote in her letter. “This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field.”

Last year, Swift announced the removal of her music from streaming service Spotify, citing compensation issues, instead putting her songs on Jay-Z’s paid-subscription site Tidal.

The move underscored her belief that musicians should be able to make a living through their creative efforts.

“Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It's my opinion that music should not be free," she wrote in The Wall Street Journal, last July.

When news of the financial aspects of Apple deal originally broke, American Association of Independent Music, an influential trade organization of independent record labels advised their members to hold off on licensing their music to the service.

But it was only after Swift’s letter went viral that Apple’s policy on the matter changed.

Eddy Cue, the company’s senior vice president of internet software and services announced on Twitter that Apple will pay artists during the the three-month trial period, crediting Swift and indie artists for the shift in policy.

“When I woke up this morning and saw what Taylor had written, it really solidified that we needed a change. And so that's why we decide we will now pay artists during the trial period," Mr. Cue told Billboard.

Swift pronounced herself "elated" with Apple's about-face on Twitter, but it's still unclear whether that means she will put her album back on the company's service.

 
 
 

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