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TIPPING ETIQUETTE

The headline of a piece by Ben Sisario in this morning New York Times encapsulates the consensus industry and media takeaway of Taylor Swift’s latest non-musical triumph; it reads, “With a Tap of Taylor Swift’s Fingers, Apple Retreated.”

In the story, Sisario writes that this superstar “has a rare power to influence the music business itself, at a time of deep anxiety among artists big and small about the value of their work. These days, the concern is about the value of music in the digital age, and by taking on Apple—and Spotify before it—Swift has emerged as perhaps the most effective negotiator in the business, for her own benefit as well as others’.”

He then quotes musician and artist-rights advocate David Lowery, who asserts, “She is the most powerful person in the music industry. She is able to bring the debate to the mainstream.”

Not only that, but Swift has performed a valuable service for Apple—and perhaps streaming services in general—by making the general public aware of this consumer option at a critical moment.

Despite the fact that millions are streaming music, it remains a niche business in the bigger picture. Indeed, it’s likely that the majority of Americans lack even a basic understanding of streaming, even as they regularly visit YouTube. Thanks to Swift, and the wall-to-wall pickup of this story on the part of mainstream media, that could change, just as Apple prepares to launch. 

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