Monday, 22 June 2015

We don’t ask U 4 free I-phones Taylor Swift’s lesson in Sales Persuasion

The Apple versus Taylor Swift battle was less David versus Goliath and more the Emperor Napoleon versus the Duke of  Wellington ( plus dutiful thanks to Field Marshall Blucher).

Leveraging power is part of a Buyer’s armoury yet such power can meet its match even its "Waterloo" from a supplier.  

Buyer power seems high when it has many alternatives. 

So Apple Music may consider they have many alternatives in the form of artists, writers and producers. The bargaining power of buyers to put the suppliers under pressure is well known.

Yet  strong established suppliers like Taylor Swift can take measures to reduce such buyer power, through  implementing a loyalty program – e.g. her fan following.  She can sell to Apple’s competition namely live venues and the concert circuit and festivals.

Apple Music can exploit their power if suppliers are dependent upon existing channels of distribution such as a streaming service

Buyers are in a strong if not unassailable position if the availability of existing substitute artist, writers and producers

Comedian David Sneider tweeted over the Taylor vs Apple Music free streaming period business over a photo of Mrs. Merton the question

“So Apple, what first attracted you to multi-million selling Taylor Swift’s argument?”
. Both the Apple Corporation and Taylor Swift are both powerful commercial entities.

Taylor Swift’s open letter to Apple is of someone speaking up for the’ little’ guys yet she astutely avoids demon-ising Apple as ‘Bully Boys’ and has strengthened her own brand image considerably.

From a selling skills point of view it is worth studying Taylor Swift's letter as a powerfully persuasive example of how to use both eloquence and rationality with a powerful buyer.

Not all Supplier  have public media presence to write an open letter to Buyers  as Taylor Swift has as a supplier of saleable music but her skill in appreciating the Buyer's point of view yet defending the cause of fellow suppliers / even her own competitors is most skillful. I have highlighted how she use the appreciation technique - empathising with Apple's point of view.

To Apple, Love Taylor

I write this to explain why I’ll be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music. 

 I feel this deserves an explanation because Apple has been and will continue to be one of my best partners in selling music and creating ways for me to connect with my fans. I respect the company and the truly ingenious minds that have created a legacy based on innovation and pushing the right boundaries.

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.

I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.  

This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows.

( Taylor now  reminds Apple of the competition – namely live music)
 ( Note also the skillful use of the pattern and power of threes that Taylor uses to paint the narrative of her argument for artists, songwriters and producers I have highlight the rhetoric of this is about in green )

This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is 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. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.

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.

I realize that Apple is working towards a goal of paid streaming. I think that is beautiful progress. We know how astronomically successful Apple has been and we know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the 3 month trial period… even if it is free for the fans trying it out.

Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done. I hope that soon I can join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create this music. I think this could be the platform that gets it right.

But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.


This has not been Apple's Waterloo . Suing for peace is usually initiated by the losing party in an attempt to stave off an unconditional surrender may be costly.

Pressing for peace  sometimes, however, be started by the winning faction as a means to end the war for several reasons, such as where additional conflict would not be in the perceived best interest of the winning party.

 I wonder if this is how we should consider Taylor Swift’s appeal and Apple's Climb down -   a "white peace," or Status quo ante bellum ?

Still the idea of Taylor Swift as an Iron Duchess somehow appeals. Good selling Taylor !


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