Taylor Swift Uses Her Power, Changes an Industry

Taylor Swift was not happy when she found out Apple wasn’t planning to pay musicians royalties during a three-month trial period for Apple Music, its new streaming service. On Sunday morning, she took to Tumblr to criticize Apple’s policy and announce that her megahit album 1989 won’t be available for streaming on Apple Music. “We don’t ask you for free iPhones,” she wrote. “Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”Within 24 hours, Apple had announced it would reverse its policy, and will pay artists after all. Afterwards, one artist described Swift as “the most powerful person in the music industry,” a statement that was echoed in the LA Times, The Guardian, and CNN.How did Taylor bring Apple around? She embraced her power and used her Power Tools:Power Tool #3: Use what you’ve got. Taylor SwiftNo matter who you are, getting a $700 billion company to bend to your will is an impressive feat. But Taylor knew she held a few cards that could make Apple pay attention.For starters, there are her 60 million Twitter followers. She also happens to be the biggest artist in the world right now, with the best-selling album of the past year by a mile.Putting them together, a combination of a single post, a single tweet, and a statement that she would be withholding her own valuable music from Apple’s service was enough to send execs scrambling.Power Tool #4: Embrace controversy.While her open letter to Apple was polite, man, did Taylor take them to task. She called Apple’s policy “shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.”Taylor also underscored that her advocacy was not about her own bottom line, as she’s clearly more than fine on the money front; it was about “the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt.” In doing so, she swiftly (no pun intended) claimed the moral high ground of the debate and held it, unafraid of how others would react.Plus, the title of her post, “To Apple, Love Taylor,” is a perfectly cheeky line written by a woman who knows she’s about to stir some stuff up, and is ready for it.Power Tool #7: Create a movement.Taylor’s post positioned herself as the champion of young, struggling artists everywhere, and noted that she wasn’t alone in her feelings: “These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.”Once the post was live, other aritsts backed Taylor up. Christina Perri, Fun.’s Jack Antonoff, and Questlove all voiced their support on Twitter; Elvis Costello even called her “our future president.” And with 41,000 retweets, it was clear regular fans were responding to her criticisms as well. Taylor’s challenge to Apple was a trending topic on Twitter for hours on Sunday.Looked at that way, maybe it wasn’t so remarkable that Apple responded so quickly. Taylor singlehandedly created a perfectly executed PR nightmare for them, and that fire had to be put out—fast.You go, Taylor, and congratulations on being an early front-runner for Take The Lead’s list of the Top Women Power Plays of 2015.Want to learn how to embrace your power and use it like Taylor did? Sign up for Gloria Feldt’s 9 Power Tools to Advance Your Career online course—the next session starts July 26th. Just remember to give us a shout-out if you ever use your new Power Tools to change a whole industry.