Taylor Swift and Apple have a complicated relationship. After publicly slamming the company for not paying royalties to artists during the three-month free trial period it offers for Apple Music, Swift subsequently praised the company for reversing that policy. And now, what began as a difference of opinion is evolving into a significant business relationship.
On Sunday morning, Swift announced that she's given exclusive rights to her upcoming concert film, The 1989 World Tour Live. The film will debut on Apple Music on Dec. 20, where it will be accessible to the service's 6.5 million and counting subscribers, as well as anyone taking advantage of that free, three-month trial. And Apple is going to promote the hell out of it.
Indeed, Swift appeared on Apple's Beats 1 radio station earlier today to discuss the film with Zane Lowe, the influential former BBC DJ who leads the station (see below). "I didn't have a personal relationship with Apple until [my open letter]," Swift told Zane. "I was thinking the way it would go over is, 'There's Taylor nagging again.' Looking at it now, having Apple change something so important for us in the music community, it opened my mind to the thought of working with them."
Apple declined comment on the length of the exclusivity period it negotiated for The 1989 World Tour Live.
An exclusive on Swift's concert film is a big, and presumably very pricey, get for Apple, which is likely to see a significant promotional upside for its new streaming music service this holiday season. Swift's preview for the concert film will be aired on television this winter, and Taylor Swift-branded Apple gift cards will be available in the U.S.
This hints at a developing allegiance with the pop star at a time when artists are looking to restrict access to some of their work to paid tiers on subscription music services.