Taylor Swift wrote a letter to Apple. Here's my thoughts.

ATTENTION ALL MUSICIANS, PHOTOGRAPHERS, PRODUCERS and FREELANCERS of any kind. Let me ask you a question - Would you be willing to work for free?

On a lazy Sunday of mid-day naps, boring TV and surfing the net, I allowed myself to visit the forum of verbal dribble that is known as Twitter. In the mixture of fathers day posts, tech promotions and friends rabbiting on I noticed that Hayley Williams retweeted a tweet from Taylor Swift. Now while I normally would ignore a celebrity retweeting another celebrity, this post had one key word that immediately caught my attention - Apple. 

Yes, Apple. The tech gods of Cupertino. It’s no lie that I am a huge fan of Apple products and their philosophy of delivering high quality goods so anything that mentions the brand guarantees at least 30 seconds of my time.

The tweet in question was a link to Miss Swifts personal blog wherein she has posted a long open letter to Apple about their music streaming service - Apple Music, which is due to be launched soon. In the post she explains that she will not be allowing her 1989 album on the streaming service. Her reason for doing so are - And I quote: 

"I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months.”

Taylor made it very clear that this was not about her being selfish and demanding the income, I’m more than sure she is able to support herself. She made this decision as a stand for all beginning musicians who are trying to cut their teeth in the business and make a living doing what they love. 

Now the meaning behind all of this is true for any career, if you have a skill, a service or an ability that people need / enjoy - then you do deserve to be paid for it. 

Yes, there is still a need to pay your dues and hone your craft in any sector of any industry. Its called development and learning, but if the quality is there then anyone still deserves to be compensated for their time and efforts, regardless of experience. 

I think there is a lot of value in paying your dues in any industry. I have done a lot of work for no cost in the past - did this help me? Yes, but only in the short term, it helped me become skilled in what I do. It assisted me in delivering consistent results which people have grown to expect from me and results which people enjoy. Therefor now when I charge people for work, they know that they are paying for quality. 

When you reach a point where you have put your own time and money into developing and creating a product, a brand, a reputation for quality, a service, an album - whatever. If there is a demand for you whatever then you should be paid. 

I understand Apple’s idea, three months free sounds great for the consumer but lets all just stop and think for a minute about those clawing and scratching at glass ceiling of the music industry, already in a massive amount of debt. Lets not forget about the big musicians who, despite being millionaires, are still entitled to be paid for what they do. Lets not forget about everyone in-between, who are doing alright but would not be able to continue without support. They deserve to be paid too.

It is fair that after ANYONE has broken their backs working, promoting, learning, developing and literally putting blood, sweat and tears into what they do, all for you to enjoy. Is it right not to pay them? Is it right to potentially deny someone three months wages? 

On a personal note, I won’t be signing up to Apple Music. I’ll stick to buying albums. I benefit from not having to rely on an internet connection to listen to music and the artist then gets to enjoy the small kickback they get from the album sale. I hope that Apple revert their decision not to pay all those behind the music for the 3 month trial period. I really do.  

And to my fellow photographers out there, let me share with you something I’ve learnt. Sometimes shooting something for free can be hugely beneficial to you. It can create contacts and can help you get your name out there. It’s sometimes important to shoot for free because you got into photography because you loved to create images. Sometimes, shooting for free is right - but don’t be afraid to ask for compensation for your time and specialist skill set. Regardless of if it's direct fee, travel or a few beers in the evening. People appreciate things they pay for a helluva lot more than the things they get for free. 

So, lets spark a bit of debate here. Comment on this post with your experiences from your industry about learning your trade and financial compensation. What are your opinions about working for free?
Do you have friends that may have a valuable input this topic? Share this post, I would enjoy to hear from people everywhere about this.

If you would like to read Taylor's full post, you can read it here - http://taylorswift.tumblr.com/post/122071902085/to-apple-love-taylor