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Taylor Swift's letter on Apple Music was separate from label negotiations

A blog post by pop signer Taylor Swift criticizing Apple Music royalties was preceded by talks with Apple by her record label, Big Machine Records —but the singer wrote the post independently, according to an executive with the label.




Conversations began several days before Swift's open letter, which ultimately led to Apple agreeing to pay rights holders for music streamed during Apple Music's three-month trial period, Big Machine's Scott Borchetta told the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference on Monday. Borchetta said that he insisted on Swift and Big Machine being paid "from the first stream."

The executive claimed that he hadn't spoken with Swift earlier in the week, and was actually taken by surprise when she texted him a link to the post and the comment "Don't be mad."

"She was in Europe. I responded and said, 'You don't have any idea how good your timing is right now,'" Borchetta explained to the conference.

Apple capitulated on the same day as Swift's post. During a conference call with two Apple executives, Jimmy Iovine and Eddy Cue, Borchetta reportedly said that the company could "do the right thing," and have musicians around the world look at it as "the good guys."

SB Projects founder and Justin Bieber manager Scooter Braun was also involved in the call, and told Brainstorm Tech that many more musicians and industry executives were protesting Apple's zero-royalty policy.

"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," he said.

Apple Music launched on June 30. Had Apple not agreed to change its policies, artists, publishers, and songwriters would not have received any payments for streaming traffic until October, after the expiry of the first trial subscriptions on Sept. 30.