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Apple Music's potential is bigger than even Taylor Swift can see

Michael Simon | June 23, 2015
It's good that Swift's open letter helped Apple see the folly of asking artists to go without royalties for three months. But Apple Music could pay larger dividends.

Apple Music's Connect feature gives the unsigned, unknown artist even greater visibility. Back in 2003 you still needed the ambition and wherewithal to create a physical product that could be sold (and ripped) before you could land on iTunes, and it isn't all that much easier for passion projects like mine to get in the store today. By stripping away labels and middlemen, Apple Music is giving the most undiscovered and untapped talents

And you can bet Apple will be spotlighting as many as they can, just as it's already given Loren Kramer a gigantic boost before the service has even launched. Once it goes live, Kramer's page will undoubtedly be one of the top visited during the first few days of the trial period, turning an unknown artist into a momentary sensation. It's great that he will now be paid for all those listens, but Kramer's exposure could be exponentially more valuable than the check he receives.

Shake it off

I'm no Loren Kramer, but during my extremely brief career I happily would have sent curious listeners to my artist page to stream my album for far less than a 99-cent commitment. I would have interacted with them and posted live videos we shot. And I'm sure there are countless artists who feel the same way we did.

Swift is surely genuine when she wrote that her stance "is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and ... will not get paid for a quarter of a year's worth of plays on his or her songs," but Apple Music is about creating longevity for artists, not a three-month bump or royalty check. There will undoubtedly be more royalty obstacles to clear, but through them all, Apple Music and Connect will help artists gain ever-important exposure.

I understand that the we're talking about people's livelihoods here--and I'm very glad Apple reversed its course and will pay artist royalties from Day 1--but Apple is creating an opportunity to build a distribution system that's far more visible than even YouTube or the iTunes Store. And while that shouldn't take the place of actual money--especially if iTunes downloads slip during the trial period--it's still worth an awful lot.


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