TIME Music

How a 25-Year-Old Blogger Took Down Apple

Lots of 25-year-olds write blog posts. One would have to imagine the incidence is even more pronounced among 25-year-old creative types, who have not yet been ground into submission by the machinery that makes the American culture industry levitate and whirr. It’s exceedingly rare that one of those blog posts accomplishes anything, except perhaps a phone call from a parent who wants the author to give law school another shot.

It’s exceedingly surprising, when the proper nouns are stripped away, that a 25-year-old’s blog post—on a Sunday—could compel Apple, the world’s most valuable company (by market cap), to change course later that day on an already-announced major consumer product, one that had presumably occasioned dozens of previous meetings and strategy sessions and chin-stroking over the product’s peculiarities.

But this is a story about Taylor Swift, who was already before Sunday the biggest thing going in popular music and is now manifesting herself as something even bigger, a singular commercial powerhouse with the strength and resolve to fight the continued devaluation of recorded music—and to get things done.

The brouhaha began when Apple announced on June 8 that it would launch its own streaming music service, one with the presumable aim of eating into the 60 million users Spotify says it has. Apple Music even announced its price as $9.99 per month, the same figure Spotify charges for its premium subscriptions.

Spotify has, after all, been the subject of intense criticism from artists and labels about its comparatively meager royalty payments. After Swift yanked her music off Spotify in November, her record label told TIME that over the prior 12 months it had been paid less than $500,000 for domestic streaming of Swift’s music, despite her status as one of the service’s most popular artists. (Spotify, for its part, said Swift’s payout for global streaming, including in the U.S., had been $2 million over that period.)

What Swift and others have reasoned is that any music service which offers a free, ad-supported option, as Spotify does, cannot offer them a worthwhile fee for their recordings. (Country singer Rosanne Cash said in September her songs were streamed 600,000 times over an 18-month period—and she received $104.)

Apple’s service has no such option. But its launch would come with three free trial months of service—months during which it would not compensate labels for the music it streamed. Hence Swift’s ire (and others’), and the singer’s Tumblr post, “To Apple, Love Taylor,” on Sunday morning. By nightfall, Eddy Cue, Apple’s media chief, had announced on Twitter that the company would reverse course and pay artists out of its own pocket (deep, incidentally, as the Marianas Trench, which makes you wonder why Apple didn’t think to pay in the first place). Cue told Billboard on Sunday, “When I woke up this morning and saw what Taylor had written, it really solidified that we needed to make a change.” He said he called Swift directly to tell her the news.

There’s a rich tradition of mass-media artists fighting the corporate interests in their workplaces, from the founding of Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin’s United Artists in 1919 all the way to Louis CK self-releasing standup specials in recent years. But even in that context Swift’s evangelism stands out. One imagines no other artist could mobilize a fan base like hers—nursed as it has been on free, on-demand content (whether music, video, or, yes, journalism) and accordingly addled—to pressure Apple. But there they were, earning their tribute, in Swift’s victory tweet early Monday morning: “I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us.”

Swift has benefited from a cultural change—many millennials are more sympathetic to corporations than their predecessors might have been. Her listeners came of age, prevailingly, in the era of free or cheap music—not one in which a teenager might have to shell out two to three weeks’ allowance to buy a CD with one or two worthwhile songs. Today, labels look to music fans like champions for beleaguered artists rather than uncreative conglomerates hellbent on ripping fans off. And her fans look to Apple as an artist-supporting American triumph capable of doing better, rather than, say, an income-tax dodger responsible for Foxconn.

Funny, or not-so-funny, enough, the Apple Music service and several music labels are under investigation by two state attorneys general for anticompetitive practices—namely, are they colluding to crush Spotify? Apple was in similar straits two years ago when a federal judge ruled that it had colluded with book publishers against Amazon to fix e-book prices; the company agreed last year to a $450 million settlement. (For whatever it’s worth: recent history delivers a withering critique of the businesses of content creation and distribution built prior to the great digital disruption. That is, if the only way to restore their past margins is to run afoul of regulators.) Whatever happens, Apple will be fine and Taylor Swift will be fine. The class imperiled, as it has been since the music industry began to shrink, is (as Swift put it) ” the new artist or band … the young songwriter … the producer who works tirelessly,” not to mention the rank-and-file at the record label.

Swift has cast her lot with them, and she has cajoled Apple into taking baby steps toward the same, which is a feat. Swift is not only the sole artist who can make a mass audience pay full freight today for its listening choices; she’s the only one who can make it feel altruistic while doing so. That’s big. She has distinguished herself as a leader, even if she has yet to broaden her aperture beyond areas of self-interest. I, for one, can’t wait until this young blogger finds out what’s happened to the journalism business.

READ MORE: “The Power of Taylor Swift,” TIME’s Nov. 2014 cover story


Watch Amy Schumer Explain Why She Pranked Kim and Kanye at the TIME 100 Gala

"I think falling is the funniest thing"

While Amy Schumer may have fearlessly thrown herself at Kim Kardashian and Kanye West on the red carpet for the TIME 100 gala, when she actually met up with them later, she got totally flustered.

Schumer appeared on The Graham Norton Show recently and talked all about what was going through her head when she met the couple later that night.

“You know when you’re in front of a celebrity?” she said. “I become such a flake. I was just saying things I didn’t mean. I’m like, ‘You and your sisters are just inspiring’ and ‘Are you hiring at Dash?’ Just nonsense.”

Schumer also talked about why she decided to throw herself at Kimye’s feet in the first place. She said she was being interviewed on the red carpet herself when all the reporters got distracted by someone behind her. When she turned around, she saw “Kim and Kanye standing there, just owning it, just being short and important. And I think falling is the funniest thing, so I took a dive in front of them.”

In all the pictures of Schumer’s stunt, West is wearing his trademark scowl, but when Norton asked Schumer if she actually did manage to make him laugh, she said, “He did not crack a smile at any point.”

“There’s no way that either of them had any idea who I am,” she added. “So that was comforting.”

This article was originally published at EW.com


Lee Daniels: ‘My Mother Knew I Had to Get Out of the Ghetto’

The 2015 TIME 100 honoree toasted his mother, Clara, at the gala in April. What follows is the text of his speech

I stand before you a very humble man — a very nervous man. I’ve been to many award shows, but this place is on another level.

I think about my kid, my son. I have twins that I didn’t want to have the life that I had. I didn’t have a great life growing up. I had my mom, who’s here tonight. But it wasn’t a great life.

And so I wanted my kids to have the life that I didn’t have, as all parents do. I wonder now… My son says I don’t have enough time for him.

My mom had five kids. And she came home after working three jobs, and I’d rub her feet. We’d all rub her feet. We were lucky to get any time with her.

My mom knew early on that I was gay, and she knew that I had to get out of the ghetto. And so she hit up my next door neighbor, who was a butler — hence The Butler. And he was the butler for Ed Snyder, who was the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles.

I drove out every day to a world of white people. And that world opened my life into a magical place that I don’t think I would’ve known.

Most of my friends are dead. I watched friends die in my arms at 5, 6, 8. When I grew up the rest of my friends died of AIDS. That I don’t have HIV is a miracle from God.

So this evening is for my mom, because she knew I was destined for something — what that something is, I don’t know. But I love her from the bottom of my heart, and I honor her tonight, because this is really for her.

Clara — Mom — stand up.

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Kanye West Warns Lee Daniels Not to Steal His Act for Empire

The hip hop superstar joked that his TIME 100 gala performance would turn up on the Fox show

During his performance at the TIME 100 gala Tuesday night, Kanye West jokingly warned fellow honoree Lee Daniels not to steal any of his act for the characters on his TV show Empire.

“Lee don’t try to take this on your next season, though man– trying to have one of the brothers pulling my sh-t man,” Kanye said in between songs, an apparent reference to the sons of Lucius Lyon on the hit Fox show. “If you see this on Empire, you just know where he got it from.”

The hit Fox show tells the story of a terminally ill hip hop magnate whose family members—and ex-wife—are fighting for control of his entertainment empire.

West performed hits like “New Slaves,” “Blood on the Leaves,” and “Gold Digger” while bathed in golden light in front of several shirtless men covered in white chalk. So keep your eyes peeled for some topless chalk-covered guys backing up Jamal or Hakeem on Empire.

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The 8 Best Things That Happened at the TIME 100 Gala

Good selfies were taken by all

What do you get when you put Kim Kardashian, Martha Stewart, David Koch and Amy Schumer in a room with a bunch of journalists and a ton of alcohol? A list of greatest hits, of course. Here’s a list of the 9 most jaw-dropping moment’s from Tuesday night’s TIME 100 Gala.

When Amy Schumer pretended to fall in front of Kim and Kanye on the red carpet

She later answered “Malala Yousafzai” when asked who she thought was the “most bangable” person on the TIME 100.

TIME 100 Gala, TIME's 100 Most Influential People In The World - Red Carpet
Kevin Mazur—Getty Images for TIME

When Julianne Moore danced

She’s still got it.

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Clint Spaulding—Patrick McMullan/Sipa USA

When three power women hugged it out

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe said meeting U.S Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power and Nigerian activist Obiageli Ezekwesili reminded her of “the power of women.” The trio discussed the best ways to beat Boko Haram and bring back the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls.

Larry Busacca—Getty Images for TIME

When one Nolan interviewed another

TIME’s very own Nolan Feeney asked Christopher Nolan about how he avoids writers block (hint: he walks).

TIME 100 Gala, TIME's 100 Most Influential People In The World - Cocktails
Jemal Countess—Getty Images for TIME

When Martha Stewart became everybody’s best friend

She got selfies with Kim Kardashian and Karlie Kloss.

Larry Busacca—Getty Images for TIME
TIME 100 Gala, TIME's 100 Most Influential People In The World - Cocktails
Andrew Hinderaker for TIME

When Kanye performed

TIME 100 Gala, TIME's 100 Most Influential People In The World - Dinner
Kevin Mazur—Getty Images for TIME

When the Frozen songwriters tweeted that they were lonely, and John Green came to keep them company

“If you are at the TIME 100 event and don’t know anyone, come find us in the corner and we will sing showtunes,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez tweeted.

NY: 2015 Time 100 Gala - Inside
Clint Spaulding—Patrick McMullan/Sipa USA

When Laverne Cox finally got to meet Lee Daniels

Jemal Countess—Getty Images for TIME

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Watch Ballerina Misty Copeland Explain How ‘Ballet Found Me’

"I had no idea that was going to be my truth."

Ballerina Misty Copeland spoke about her humble beginnings and overcoming professional and personal challenges in a toast at the TIME 100 gala on Tuesday.

Copeland, who was the only African American ballerina at the American Ballet Theater during her first decade there, said she felt a calling to dance in unlikely circumstances. “As a 13-year-old growing up in Los Angeles, California, this very diverse place, I was living in a motel with my single parent, with my mother and five of my siblings. And that’s when ballet found me,” she said.

The author and dancer, who was named one of the world’s most influential people in the 2015 TIME 100, said that one of her major influences was Raven Wilkinson, the first African American ballerina to dance in an elite international dance company, and now her neighbor in New York City.

“She’s become an incredible role model for me, and someone who has sparked this curiosity for me to try and open up the doors for the history of African American ballerinas that I feel is just not told.”

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Watch Empire Creator Lee Daniels Give a Moving Toast to His Mom

"This evening is for my mom, because she knew that I was destined for something"

Director and producer Lee Daniels credits his success to a special woman in his life — his mom, Clara Watson, whom he toasted with a moving address at the TIME 100 gala on Tuesday.

The creator of the hit television series Empire told attendees his life as a gay African American man could have gone very differently were it not for the support of his mother. “My mom knew early on that I was gay. And she knew that I had to get out of the ghetto,” Daniels said. He acknowledged that many of his friends have died from HIV and AIDS. “That I don’t have HIV is a miracle from God.”

The 2015 TIME 100 honoree — who was feted by Oprah Winfrey on this year’s list — concluded by asking his mother to stand up to a round of applause from the audience. “This evening is for my mom, because she knew that I was destined for something,” he said. “What that something is, I don’t know. But I love her from the bottom of my heart.”

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Watch Jorge Ramos Pay Tribute to Young Immigrants

The television anchors calls them, 'my real heroes'

Fusion and Univision News anchor Jorge Ramos paid tribute to young immigrants hoping for a chance at the American dream in a moving speech at the TIME 100 Gala.

“It is very difficult to be an immigrant because you have to leave everything,” Ramos said. “You leave your home, your family, your friends, your culture, your language, sometimes your soul.”

He concluded his remarks with a toast to young people brought to the country as children who are battling to secure access to higher education. “My real heroes. The dreamers. You know, they are young, undocumented students who came to this country when they were very young…Because Congress has done absolutely nothing in the last decade on immigration, the dreamers decided to take this on themselves.”

Ramos, a TIME 100 honoree in 2015, also toasted the group of Mexican journalists who, “have denounced corruption at the highest levels of the Mexican government” and paid tribute to political prisoners in Venezuela, including the leader of the opposition in Venezuela, Leopoldo Lopez.

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Here’s What Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards Had to Say to David Koch

NY: 2015 Time 100 Gala - Inside
Clint Spaulding—Patrick McMullan/Sipa USA Cecile Richards attends the Time 100 Gala held at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City on April 21, 2015.

Not what you might expect

When Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards met well-known donor to conservative causes David Koch at the Time 100 gala Tuesday night, she didn’t bring up their divergent views on social issues — instead, she praised him for his commitment to criminal justice reform.

Richards told the billionaire industrialist during a conversation with TIME that she was “grateful for what you’re doing in criminal justice,” and Koch answered that reform was “well-needed.”

As well as pledging to spend nearly a billion dollars to elect conservative candidates in the 2016 elections, Koch and his brother Charles have recently stepped up their efforts to lobby for prison reform. Mark Holden, senior vice president and general counsel at Koch Industries, told TIME in January that the issue was “sweeping in a lot of unusual, non-traditional allies, and I think it’s a good thing.”

Koch also told Richards the story of how he got involved with philanthropy. After surviving a plane crash, he said, he realized that “this is a spiritual experience and I’m going to spend the rest of my life doing philanthropic projects.”

The 2015 TIME 100 honoree also told TIME why he likes Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, reinforcing the notion that the Republican presidential hopeful might be the favored candidate of the influential brothers.

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How Twitter Brought the Frozen Songwriters and John Green Together

The three met up at the annual TIME 100 gala

Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the husband-and-wife songwriting team behind Frozen, attended the TIME 100 Gala last year as honorees, but they still felt a little out of place this year’s event.

“If you are at the Time 100 event and don’t know anyone, come find us in the corner and we will sing showtunes,” Anderson-Lopez tweeted early in the evening. “We are at the #time100 party awkwardly taking selfies in the corner,” her husband posted a few minutes later.

But after the two told TIME that a Twitter follower suggested they seek out The Fault in Our Stars author John Green, an introduction was quickly made—though it turned out this wasn’t the first time the three had met.

“I know what you guys did!” Green laughed after the couple told him who they were. “I talked to you last year but you don’t remember!” Green then introduced the pair to his wife, who, as the mother of small children, is extremely familiar with “Let It Go” and other songs from the movie. “You guys have changed her life, maybe not for the better,” Green said.

Lopez and Anderson-Lopez are still deep in the Frozen universe, writing additional songs for the Broadway musical adaptation of the Disney animated hit, but with last month’s news that a sequel was officially on its way, the two say they haven’t yet come up with a “Let It Go” follow-up—not that they’re sweating it.

“Definitely not!” Anderson-Lopez said. “We’re waiting till it comes [to us],” Lopez added.

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