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Taylor Swift Wins Battle With Apple Over Free Music Streaming

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Taylor Swift took on Apple over the weekend, and she won. Apple is launching a new music streaming service at the end of June, and it's offering users a free three-month trial. During that window, the company had planned to pay artists nothing - as in zero - for their streamed songs. That's when the pop star stepped in. NPR's Aarti Shahani reports.

AARTI SHAHANI, BYLINE: On Saturday, Taylor Swift took to her Tumblr blog and called the move by Apple shocking, disappointing. She wrote, we don't ask for free iPhones.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BAD BLOOD")

TAYLOR SWIFT: (Singing) Because, baby, now we got bad blood. You know we used to be...

SHAHANI: To protest the Apple Music's move to not pay artists, producers and writers, she said the company would not be allowed to stream her new album, "1989," which includes top billboard songs like this one, "Bad Blood."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BAD BLOOD")

SWIFT: (Singing) You made a really deep cut. And, baby, now we got bad blood. Hey.

SHAHANI: And, in response, the giant folded. Late last night, executive Eddy Cue tweeted out, Apple Music will pay artists for streaming, even during customers' free trial period. We hear you, @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple

And so ends some bad blood.

CASEY RAE: And all props to Taylor Swift for pulling this off.

SHAHANI: Casey Rae is CEO of the Future of Music Coalition.

RAE: It is really, really remarkable that she was able to influence Apple to change a fundamental business decision.

SHAHANI: Many small independent labels were making the same point. Spotify, the music streaming incumbent, also has a free version. But even in that free version, artists get paid. Spotify uses advertising revenue. Rae says Apple was regressing, cutting of payments to artists who were already shortchanged. And he criticizes the major labels who signed up for the deal.

RAE: I hope that they understand that they also have to start making the right decisions by artists and standing up for them when necessary, you know? If we didn't have Taylor Swift, who would've stood up?

SHAHANI: Even if the major labels don't understand, music industry veteran Jeremy Silver with Media Clarity says, artists have a new window of opportunity. As tech companies battle each other, they're giving the talent some leverage.

JEREMY SILVER: The competition to have the first hearing of a new album by a particular band, the first opportunity to buy the signed poster by a particular band, all of those kinds of things are going to become even more powerful than they were before.

SHAHANI: Apple, Spotify, Pandora and others aren't just vying for users. If the goal is to bring fans and artists close, the music streaming services have to court both sides. Aarti Shahani, NPR News, San Francisco. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.