By Victor Luckerson
June 23, 2015

After pop superstar Taylor Swift and Apple resolved their spat about music royalty rates over the weekend, both sides came out looking golden.

Apple had been planning not to pay artists during a three-month free trial period of its upcoming streaming service, Apple Music. The company swiftly about-faced, however, after the singer wrote a post Sunday demanding Apple pay up.

After the dust settled, Swift came out looking like a champion for her fellow artists, while Apple appeared open to making big changes when faced with mounting pressure. Apple also came out of the ordeal with more public interest in Apple Music, which launches June 30 but was announced to fairly muted fanfare.

In short, both sides won — a rare outcome in business negotiations. It was, at the very least, a savvy PR campaign by Swift to build public support for her cause and an effective response by Apple. But some people — let’s call them Taylor Truthers — think the two sides may have been in cahoots all along:

Meanwhile, former Pandora executive Tom Conrad deemed the so-called dispute “mostly theater.” Conrad pointed out that competitors such as Pandora, Spotify and YouTube already pay artists even for users who don’t pony up for their music.

Whatever the case, the entire episode speaks to the power of Swift’s brand. When she speaks about the future of the music business, people listen.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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