People love celebrities, idealize them and in most of the cases, the fan base of a particular celebrity endorses all the products which these celebrities’ campaign for. Rivalries are based on the basis of liking or disliking of a particular rock band and the mutual liking for a particular pop-star forms the foundation of lifelong friendships. But in view of recent events, it was comprehended that perhaps, people love the entertainment more than the entertainers.
We are talking about the recent Taylor Swift rage episode against the popular Apple music subscription service. The most acclaimed female singer amongst the youth, Taylor Swift bashed Apple music for not paying any royalties to the singers during its three month free trial. The singer added that she will keep her latest music album “1989” off the Apple music subscription owing to the same reason. Apple was quick to respond and a series of tweets by Apple’s head of software and services, Eddy Cue, assured the singer that all royalties shall be paid to the singers.
Result of the Taylor Swift vs Apple Episode?
The real question here is, whether Apple was in any kind of situation where it would begin loosing subscriptions due to Taylor Swift’s admonition? The answer to this question is no. If at all, Apple music subscription service was getting free advertisement and that too by one of the most famous female celebrities in the music industry. Fact is, the bashing will eventually profit the Apple music subscription service as people who have not tried it yet, will be compelled to do so based on the singer’s comments. The heart throb’s statement naturally made it to global media which will only have one result: global recognition of the Apple’s music subscription service. People from all over the world will be tempted to try it only because they heard its name “from Taylor Swift” or because it was “on the news” or simply because who doesn’t love controversies?!
Lessons from the Past
In the past, Spotify went through the exact same thing when Taylor Swift pulled out a large chunk of her music from the famous music subscription service remarking that Spotify did not pay the artists, producers and writers fairly and recorded her objections on the free tier of the subscription services. The result, well, Spotify stood its ground. Spotify’s head of content, Steve Savoca, explained this later on saying, “It’s not that consumers don’t understand the model per se, it’s about making the leap. Our free tier is everything in that regard.” The music subscription service was right, as the result of this dramatic episode was that Spotify, which although was making its mark among Americans slowly and gradually saw a sudden jump in its growth and became a house-hold name.
In the words of Russ Crupnick, an analyst for researcher MusicWatch, “While a lot was likely organic growth, I’m convinced the saga created awareness for Spotify that helped build usage. The focus clearly added name recognition.” His study showed results that before the showdown one in three Americans on an average recognized Spotify but afterwards, the number rose exponentially.
How does celebrity bashing actually work?
Taylor Swift might have been angry and looking to tear the music subscription companies down inch by inch as she decided to write and editorial in the Wall Street Journal. What she did not recognize was that, in fact, she was providing these music subscriptions services with the chance of making it to the front pages of a nationally acclaimed newspaper. Moreover, the debate and discussion that followed resulted in evoking the interest of those people who had previously not given subscribing to such services a second thought.
People may love celebrities but who does not love free music more? So while the common man loves a particular singer or artist, what he loves more is access to their art for free. And this is the only way for the music subscription companies to bring in new subscribers and then to persuade them to buy their services by providing them with free but good quality services. This is why Spotify refused to let go of its free tier and this is the same reason that while Apple may begin paying royalties to the artists for the trial period, it would generate this revenue by some other means. Ridding the people of the free trial periods means losing all the new potential customers and even quite a few of the old ones too.
Another Example from the Past
When Beats started its 10-a-month streaming music service, owing to its commercial success in manufacturing headphones, it was being predicted that this project would also be a success. But sadly, it was not. The reason; lack of education. Beats music streaming service lacked the free tier but did provide its users with free trial periods leading to subscriptions. It had its advertisements appear on the front pages of top-notch new papers and lavish advertisements being played at the super bowl but it all did not work out. The reason, again; lack of education among the common man regarding the service. Also, Beats music streaming service also was not the target of any celebrity bashing so the obvious result was that until May 2014, when finally Apple bought the service, it had a mere 250,000 paying subscribers.
We can therefore, safely conclude that the trial periods and the free tiers are an essential element to lure in subscribers. But to lure in users in the first place, such subscription services require large-scale product enlightenment campaign among the masses, which in the above cases was provided by Taylor Swift. These companies actually made it to print, electronic and social media, were in the center of a heated discussion all of which directly benefitted them by making the common man aware with their names.