Left-wing Apple is huge and popular with the technorati. It became the world’s first company worth $700 billion, and was once rich enough to buy the entire island of Cyprus. But Apple said it can only afford to pay musicians pennies an hour for streaming their music, approximately 27 times less than Chinese factory workers earned making the Apple Watch.
Apple came under intense criticism after singer Taylor Swift complained about the company’s plan to pay artists nothing. ABC, CBS and NBC all highlighted Swift’s fight. None of them pointed out Apple’s hypocrisy as a prominent left-wing company that pays musicians peanuts.
Although the music publisher has failed to promote “income equality” for musicians, Apple has jumped on the bandwagon of numerous liberal causes. On June 25, the company announced it had removed Civil War games from its App Store that contained “images of the Confederate Flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways,” CNN Money reported.
Openly gay CEO Tim Cook tweeted March 27 that Apple was “deeply disappointed” in Indiana’s religious liberties law intended to protect business owners. Cook wrote in a Washington Post op-ed March 29 that he opposed the Indiana law “on behalf of Apple.” He said “discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business,” and that Apple attempted to “do business in a way that is just and fair.”
But apparently Apple’s “just and fair” policy doesn’t apply to musicians. The company planned to pay as little as $0.002 to musicians and $0.00047 to producers each time their songs were played on the new streaming service Apple Music, The New York Times and Billboard reported June 24. Under this arrangement, the song Happy by Pharrell Williams would hypothetically earn only $0.0381 per hour of streaming, or $86,000 total.
Still, that’s higher than the rate Apple originally suggested. It had previously proposed to pay nothing at all to indie artists and producers for songs played by users signed up for Apple Music’s free three-month trial.
The company only changed this policy following criticism by Swift and other artists. Swift wrote a Tumblr post June 21 directed at Apple, saying it was “unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing.”
Apple’s revised royalty rate slightly exceeded what rival streaming service Pandora paid producers and artists. Pharrell Williams had received just $2,700 in songwriting royalties and $25,000 in total fees for 43 million plays of Happy, Business Insider tech reporter Maya Kosoff said in December 2014. That was only about one cent ($0.01) per hour of streaming.
While Apple may pay better royalties than the competition, it was far stingier with musicians than some Apple suppliers were with their Chinese employees. Apple Watch factory workers in China received a base hourly rate of approximately $1.03, according to statistics reported April 24 by Radar Online. That rate was more than 27 times the hourly rate Pharrell Williams would earn for Happy under Apple’s current lowest royalty rate.