Apple Music execs reveal months of work behind releasing Taylor Swift's new album

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited April 15

Apple Music teams were working extensively with Taylor Swift to ready her new album and its promotion long before "The Tortured Poets Department" is due to be released.

Woman with red lipstick and windswept hair gazes into the distance against a clear sky at twilight.
Taylor Swift (Source: Apple Music)



Taylor Swift was Apple Music's artist of the year for 2023, so naturally it was going to put some effort into promoting her next release on the streamer. Bringing out a new album on Apple Music is never just about pressing a button, however.

Ahead of the actual launch on April 19, 2024, the most visible part of Apple Music's work with Swift is in the clues it began dropping on the service. First, Swift worked Apple Music to curate five different playlists that are related to heartbreak.

Then every day beginning on April 13, 2024, one song in one playlist had one change made to its lyrics. The song remains untouched but as spotted by USA Today, the lyrics on Apple Music's version contained random-seeming capital letters in the middle of words.

They weren't random. The six letters hidden for only one day in one playlist's version of her "Glitch" track, spelled out the word "Hereby."

Streaming a new album effectively



At midnight on April 19, "Tortured Poets" will be released. USA Today isn't clear what timezone that midnight release is, but it does say that Apple Music teams on both coasts will be in their office making sure it all goes smoothly.

"We've done so many of these," Rachel Newman, Apple Music's global head of editorial told the publication, "and we've really built a lot of credibility and trust in the artist community."

"We always try to think really deeply about the creative approach that is relative to the concepts of the albums and what the artist is talking about and feeling in the moment," she continues. "And then it's a real collaboration with the artist's team and sometimes directly with the artist about what feels right for them."

As of the time that Apple Music hosted events honoring Taylor Swift as its artist of the year in December 2023, her "Midnights" was the largest album by a female artist in Apple Music history.



Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    neoncatneoncat Posts: 152member
    And therein lies the core problem with Apple Music: It is to streaming services what Top 40 was to radio in the 80s. Apple is far more concerned with whether Apple Music appears to be aligned with what is "now" than building a vital and comprehensive music service, much less fixing the oft-documented problems with the garbage that is Music.app. The end result is not something that comes across as cool and essential, but rather a bunch of boomers wearing tight-fitting jeans and inviting themselves to industry parties. 

    Before the Swifties descend upon me like a ton of bricks: Tay-Tay is not, er, my cup of tea, but she's an amazing business person and I don't find her music actively terrible, or anything. It's the form of Apple's myopic partnerships, not the individual artists.

    Another example would be the weird amount of attention they kept giving Billie Eilish, who admitted in a couple interviews she found it all "very strange," and that it was entirely a construct between Apple and her record company. She had nothing to do with it, despite Apple continually selling it as a partnership between her, individually, and Apple. Again—boomers in jeans making sure to be seen rather than thinking about: Is this what my users actually want?
    byronlwilliamlondondewmebaconstangSpitbathAlex_V
  • Reply 2 of 18
    XedXed Posts: 2,626member
    neoncat said:
    And therein lies the core problem with Apple Music: It is to streaming services what Top 40 was to radio in the 80s. Apple is far more concerned with whether Apple Music appears to be aligned with what is "now" than building a vital and comprehensive music service, much less fixing the oft-documented problems with the garbage that is Music.app. The end result is not something that comes across as cool and essential, but rather a bunch of boomers wearing tight-fitting jeans and inviting themselves to industry parties. 

    Before the Swifties descend upon me like a ton of bricks: Tay-Tay is not, er, my cup of tea, but she's an amazing business person and I don't find her music actively terrible, or anything. It's the form of Apple's myopic partnerships, not the individual artists.

    Another example would be the weird amount of attention they kept giving Billie Eilish, who admitted in a couple interviews she found it all "very strange," and that it was entirely a construct between Apple and her record company. She had nothing to do with it, despite Apple continually selling it as a partnership between her, individually, and Apple. Again—boomers in jeans making sure to be seen rather than thinking about: Is this what my users actually want?
    You sound like a boomer. Are you simply a boomer that doesn't wear jeans?
    macxpressbyronlwilliamlondonAppleishdewmewatto_cobraronnSpitbath
  • Reply 3 of 18
    neoncatneoncat Posts: 152member
    Oh, sick burn dude! But sorry, no, squarely Gen X. I own a boutique PR and marketing firm targeted at the independent music industry (among other content sectors), so obviously I have an agenda and a viewpoint, one based on the marketplace I work in and the artists I serve and the reactions from those artists and their record companies I see to how Apple Music does business. Your viewpoints and experiences may be different, and I respect and support that. We're here to have a discussion, right? So you can learn from me and I can learn from you, right?

    Oh sorry. Apple Music is the best!
    edited April 14 byronlbaconstangAlex_Vspheric
  • Reply 4 of 18
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,840member
    neoncat said:
    And therein lies the core problem with Apple Music: It is to streaming services what Top 40 was to radio in the 80s. Apple is far more concerned with whether Apple Music appears to be aligned with what is "now" than building a vital and comprehensive music service, much less fixing the oft-documented problems with the garbage that is Music.app. The end result is not something that comes across as cool and essential, but rather a bunch of boomers wearing tight-fitting jeans and inviting themselves to industry parties. 

    Before the Swifties descend upon me like a ton of bricks: Tay-Tay is not, er, my cup of tea, but she's an amazing business person and I don't find her music actively terrible, or anything. It's the form of Apple's myopic partnerships, not the individual artists.

    Another example would be the weird amount of attention they kept giving Billie Eilish, who admitted in a couple interviews she found it all "very strange," and that it was entirely a construct between Apple and her record company. She had nothing to do with it, despite Apple continually selling it as a partnership between her, individually, and Apple. Again—boomers in jeans making sure to be seen rather than thinking about: Is this what my users actually want?
    Get off my lawn!!!! 
    dewmewatto_cobraronnSpitbath
  • Reply 5 of 18
    Really doesn’t sound like a lot of actual work.
    neoncatcpsrowilliamlondonwatto_cobraSpitbath
  • Reply 6 of 18
    byronlbyronl Posts: 366member
    neoncat said:
    And therein lies the core problem with Apple Music: It is to streaming services what Top 40 was to radio in the 80s. Apple is far more concerned with whether Apple Music appears to be aligned with what is "now" than building a vital and comprehensive music service, much less fixing the oft-documented problems with the garbage that is Music.app. The end result is not something that comes across as cool and essential, but rather a bunch of boomers wearing tight-fitting jeans and inviting themselves to industry parties. 

    Before the Swifties descend upon me like a ton of bricks: Tay-Tay is not, er, my cup of tea, but she's an amazing business person and I don't find her music actively terrible, or anything. It's the form of Apple's myopic partnerships, not the individual artists.

    Another example would be the weird amount of attention they kept giving Billie Eilish, who admitted in a couple interviews she found it all "very strange," and that it was entirely a construct between Apple and her record company. She had nothing to do with it, despite Apple continually selling it as a partnership between her, individually, and Apple. Again—boomers in jeans making sure to be seen rather than thinking about: Is this what my users actually want?
    Where did Eilish say that? Can't find a source
    williamlondonwatto_cobraSpitbath
  • Reply 7 of 18
    XedXed Posts: 2,626member
    neoncat said:
    Oh, sick burn dude! But sorry, no, squarely Gen X. I own a boutique PR and marketing firm targeted at the independent music industry (among other content sectors), so obviously I have an agenda and a viewpoint, one based on the marketplace I work in and the artists I serve and the reactions from those artists and their record companies I see to how Apple Music does business. Your viewpoints and experiences may be different, and I respect and support that. We're here to have a discussion, right? So you can learn from me and I can learn from you, right?

    Oh sorry. Apple Music is the best!
    1) Not a “burn” unless you choose it be one. Just an observation on your rhetoric.

    2) If you really want to have a conversation about music distribution and your insights into that industry then you could focus on that. Most of your comment was an irrelevant mention about a musician that doesn’t appeal to you to multiple odd mentions of an age group and attire for reasons that escape me. If there was a salient point to your comment it needs to be more clearly stated.
    watto_cobraronnSpitbath
  • Reply 8 of 18
    neoncatneoncat Posts: 152member
    Xed said:
    2) If you really want to have a conversation about music distribution and your insights into that industry then you could focus on that. Most of your comment was an irrelevant mention about a musician that doesn’t appeal to you to multiple odd mentions of an age group and attire for reasons that escape me. If there was a salient point to your comment it needs to be more clearly stated.
    OK, yes, I'm prone to rhetoric. My bad, and I'll own that. I used the promotional activity supporting Taylor Swift, and Billie Eilish, as examples. We're responding to an article specifically about Taylor Swift, I'm not sure it's so out of bounds to focus on that. That I made it a point to react to an imagined Swiftie backlash was probably unnecessary, you're right.

    As for Apple Music: Did you know that Apple has no affordances for self-represented artists or non-major labels to create marketing partnerships? Let's say you're a self-represented artist who does not release albums but individual tracks (you may scoff, but this is the fastest growing segment of the music industry). Apple Music is the only major streaming service that provides no promotional hooks to non-album, non-represented releases. Not even pay-to-promote. Until recently, it was impossible to even establish a relationship with Apple Music if you were non-represented/ASCAP (again, Apple was unique in this regard). My comparisons to Top 40 radio was to imply that Apple is fostering the same sort of closed-loop, self-referential music pool that forcibly restricts discovery to specific artists only. It promotes major label/brand-centric music, as does so primarily to associate its own brand with that of certain hot artists. 

    Taylor Swift doesn't need Apple's help to have a wildly successful album. Her tangible benefits from the partnership are minimal, any more so than Labron James needs Nike to be a successful, HoF athlete. Apple, however, believes its association with Taylor Swift improves the appearance of Apple Music. That brand synergy, I believe, is more important than how Apple creates a platform for musicians and music discovery (much as how Nike has dropped any pretense of quality in its products—look at the disaster unfolding with the MLB uniforms). Ultimately, it's us Apple Music users who suffer as a result of Apple's singular focus on brand rather than the function and quality of their service. The time spent by Apple constantly promoting these partnerships and explaining how hard they work to promote artists who don't need their help, to me, rings of a desperate need to be seen as "cool" rather than "good." (hence my sniping about "boomers" ... rhetoric!)

    Again, to be clear: My opinion based on my work for artists and record companies that operate contrary to the baseline norms of music promotion. Obviously I'm going to react negatively to entities who operate using traditional methods. You should therefore take my opinions in that context. If major label and album-centric is what you want your streaming service to be, and you put no or low value on music discovery, then Apple Music as-is serves your needs and what I represent does not. And that's fine, genuinely. It should, after all, always come down to experiencing the music we love (including Taylor Swift!) Apple's constant need to insert its brand into that relationship is what I am reacting to and as a music lover resent. 
    edited April 14 mobirdarlorspheric
  • Reply 9 of 18
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 3,206member
    "Hereby"
    Wow, that's deep.
    /s
    watto_cobraspheric
  • Reply 10 of 18
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 1,266member
    neoncat said:
    And therein lies the core problem with Apple Music: It is to streaming services what Top 40 was to radio in the 80s. Apple is far more concerned with whether Apple Music appears to be aligned with what is "now" than building a vital and comprehensive music service, much less fixing the oft-documented problems with the garbage that is Music.app. The end result is not something that comes across as cool and essential, but rather a bunch of boomers wearing tight-fitting jeans and inviting themselves to industry parties. 

    Before the Swifties descend upon me like a ton of bricks: Tay-Tay is not, er, my cup of tea, but she's an amazing business person and I don't find her music actively terrible, or anything. It's the form of Apple's myopic partnerships, not the individual artists.

    Another example would be the weird amount of attention they kept giving Billie Eilish, who admitted in a couple interviews she found it all "very strange," and that it was entirely a construct between Apple and her record company. She had nothing to do with it, despite Apple continually selling it as a partnership between her, individually, and Apple. Again—boomers in jeans making sure to be seen rather than thinking about: Is this what my users actually want?
    So you want Apple to act like an indie label? It’s a gigantic mega-corporation.  Not gonna happen, ever. 
    ronnSpitbath
  • Reply 11 of 18
    Reading through the thread so far I have to say I do feel that @neoncat has a point here. If you remember just how much Apple, in particular Steve, emphasised that they love music, artists, etc and through the Music Store wanted also to specifically go new ways to support the artists (and not the labels in the first place), and offer them a place to grow.
    Today, it seems as though Apple does not think forward/outside the box, and is happy to have some established service with established artists. I have an AM subscription, no other service though, so I really cannot compare regarding innovation/trendsettign etc. Just from a marketing side it appears as though they are not trying new ways to help (indie) artists to grow.
  • Reply 12 of 18
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,720member
    neoncat said:
    Xed said:
    2) If you really want to have a conversation about music distribution and your insights into that industry then you could focus on that. Most of your comment was an irrelevant mention about a musician that doesn’t appeal to you to multiple odd mentions of an age group and attire for reasons that escape me. If there was a salient point to your comment it needs to be more clearly stated.
    OK, yes, I'm prone to rhetoric. My bad, and I'll own that. I used the promotional activity supporting Taylor Swift, and Billie Eilish, as examples. We're responding to an article specifically about Taylor Swift, I'm not sure it's so out of bounds to focus on that. That I made it a point to react to an imagined Swiftie backlash was probably unnecessary, you're right.

    As for Apple Music: Did you know that Apple has no affordances for self-represented artists or non-major labels to create marketing partnerships? Let's say you're a self-represented artist who does not release albums but individual tracks (you may scoff, but this is the fastest growing segment of the music industry). Apple Music is the only major streaming service that provides no promotional hooks to non-album, non-represented releases. Not even pay-to-promote. Until recently, it was impossible to even establish a relationship with Apple Music if you were non-represented/ASCAP (again, Apple was unique in this regard). My comparisons to Top 40 radio was to imply that Apple is fostering the same sort of closed-loop, self-referential music pool that forcibly restricts discovery to specific artists only. It promotes major label/brand-centric music, as does so primarily to associate its own brand with that of certain hot artists. 

    Taylor Swift doesn't need Apple's help to have a wildly successful album. Her tangible benefits from the partnership are minimal, any more so than Labron James needs Nike to be a successful, HoF athlete. Apple, however, believes its association with Taylor Swift improves the appearance of Apple Music. That brand synergy, I believe, is more important than how Apple creates a platform for musicians and music discovery (much as how Nike has dropped any pretense of quality in its products—look at the disaster unfolding with the MLB uniforms). Ultimately, it's us Apple Music users who suffer as a result of Apple's singular focus on brand rather than the function and quality of their service. The time spent by Apple constantly promoting these partnerships and explaining how hard they work to promote artists who don't need their help, to me, rings of a desperate need to be seen as "cool" rather than "good." (hence my sniping about "boomers" ... rhetoric!)

    Again, to be clear: My opinion based on my work for artists and record companies that operate contrary to the baseline norms of music promotion. Obviously I'm going to react negatively to entities who operate using traditional methods. You should therefore take my opinions in that context. If major label and album-centric is what you want your streaming service to be, and you put no or low value on music discovery, then Apple Music as-is serves your needs and what I represent does not. And that's fine, genuinely. It should, after all, always come down to experiencing the music we love (including Taylor Swift!) Apple's constant need to insert its brand into that relationship is what I am reacting to and as a music lover resent. 
    So you think Spotify, or any of the other music services, are better (or worse) with respect to what you mention?
    ronn
  • Reply 13 of 18
    techridertechrider Posts: 102member
    Thank goodness Apple put in all that work. Taylor’s album might be at risk of not reaching her audience without it.
  • Reply 14 of 18
    XedXed Posts: 2,626member
    techrider said:
    Thank goodness Apple put in all that work. Taylor’s album might be at risk of not reaching her audience without it.
    Advertising does help, which is why the world’s best known brands still pay billions a year to stay in public view. But I think with this it’s more about Apple advertising Apple Music than Swift advertising her new album, even though both are clearly benefiting.
    ronn
  • Reply 15 of 18
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,578member
    hexclock said:
    neoncat said:
    And therein lies the core problem with Apple Music: It is to streaming services what Top 40 was to radio in the 80s. Apple is far more concerned with whether Apple Music appears to be aligned with what is "now" than building a vital and comprehensive music service, much less fixing the oft-documented problems with the garbage that is Music.app. The end result is not something that comes across as cool and essential, but rather a bunch of boomers wearing tight-fitting jeans and inviting themselves to industry parties. 

    Before the Swifties descend upon me like a ton of bricks: Tay-Tay is not, er, my cup of tea, but she's an amazing business person and I don't find her music actively terrible, or anything. It's the form of Apple's myopic partnerships, not the individual artists.

    Another example would be the weird amount of attention they kept giving Billie Eilish, who admitted in a couple interviews she found it all "very strange," and that it was entirely a construct between Apple and her record company. She had nothing to do with it, despite Apple continually selling it as a partnership between her, individually, and Apple. Again—boomers in jeans making sure to be seen rather than thinking about: Is this what my users actually want?
    So you want Apple to act like an indie label? It’s a gigantic mega-corporation.  Not gonna happen, ever. 
    No, he wants Apple to talk to indie labels. Actual indie labels, not sub-labels wholly administered by Sony or Universal. 

    He wants them to act like a streaming music service, not a major-label mouthpiece. 
  • Reply 16 of 18
    XedXed Posts: 2,626member
    spheric said:
    hexclock said:
    neoncat said:
    And therein lies the core problem with Apple Music: It is to streaming services what Top 40 was to radio in the 80s. Apple is far more concerned with whether Apple Music appears to be aligned with what is "now" than building a vital and comprehensive music service, much less fixing the oft-documented problems with the garbage that is Music.app. The end result is not something that comes across as cool and essential, but rather a bunch of boomers wearing tight-fitting jeans and inviting themselves to industry parties. 

    Before the Swifties descend upon me like a ton of bricks: Tay-Tay is not, er, my cup of tea, but she's an amazing business person and I don't find her music actively terrible, or anything. It's the form of Apple's myopic partnerships, not the individual artists.

    Another example would be the weird amount of attention they kept giving Billie Eilish, who admitted in a couple interviews she found it all "very strange," and that it was entirely a construct between Apple and her record company. She had nothing to do with it, despite Apple continually selling it as a partnership between her, individually, and Apple. Again—boomers in jeans making sure to be seen rather than thinking about: Is this what my users actually want?
    So you want Apple to act like an indie label? It’s a gigantic mega-corporation.  Not gonna happen, ever. 
    No, he wants Apple to talk to indie labels. Actual indie labels, not sub-labels wholly administered by Sony or Universal. 

    He wants them to act like a streaming music service, not a major-label mouthpiece. 
    Good news! They already act like a streaming service. Their goal is to get as many subscribers as possible and you do that buy appealing to the widest base, not the smallest. For better or worse, Apple is acting just like a for-profit company.
  • Reply 17 of 18
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,578member
    Xed said:
    spheric said:
    hexclock said:
    neoncat said:
    And therein lies the core problem with Apple Music: It is to streaming services what Top 40 was to radio in the 80s. Apple is far more concerned with whether Apple Music appears to be aligned with what is "now" than building a vital and comprehensive music service, much less fixing the oft-documented problems with the garbage that is Music.app. The end result is not something that comes across as cool and essential, but rather a bunch of boomers wearing tight-fitting jeans and inviting themselves to industry parties. 

    Before the Swifties descend upon me like a ton of bricks: Tay-Tay is not, er, my cup of tea, but she's an amazing business person and I don't find her music actively terrible, or anything. It's the form of Apple's myopic partnerships, not the individual artists.

    Another example would be the weird amount of attention they kept giving Billie Eilish, who admitted in a couple interviews she found it all "very strange," and that it was entirely a construct between Apple and her record company. She had nothing to do with it, despite Apple continually selling it as a partnership between her, individually, and Apple. Again—boomers in jeans making sure to be seen rather than thinking about: Is this what my users actually want?
    So you want Apple to act like an indie label? It’s a gigantic mega-corporation.  Not gonna happen, ever. 
    No, he wants Apple to talk to indie labels. Actual indie labels, not sub-labels wholly administered by Sony or Universal. 

    He wants them to act like a streaming music service, not a major-label mouthpiece. 
    Good news! They already act like a streaming service. 
    Oh, good! Where does my small independent label contact them for promotion? 

    Snark aside: Your point that Spotify, which does offer this, has yet to make any money, is taken, of course. You're right. 

    However, Spotify being the total shitshow it is probably has very little to do with the fact that they offer such channels. They fuck over artists in every way they can, anyway. 
    edited April 17
  • Reply 18 of 18
    XedXed Posts: 2,626member
    spheric said:
    Xed said:
    spheric said:
    hexclock said:
    neoncat said:
    And therein lies the core problem with Apple Music: It is to streaming services what Top 40 was to radio in the 80s. Apple is far more concerned with whether Apple Music appears to be aligned with what is "now" than building a vital and comprehensive music service, much less fixing the oft-documented problems with the garbage that is Music.app. The end result is not something that comes across as cool and essential, but rather a bunch of boomers wearing tight-fitting jeans and inviting themselves to industry parties. 

    Before the Swifties descend upon me like a ton of bricks: Tay-Tay is not, er, my cup of tea, but she's an amazing business person and I don't find her music actively terrible, or anything. It's the form of Apple's myopic partnerships, not the individual artists.

    Another example would be the weird amount of attention they kept giving Billie Eilish, who admitted in a couple interviews she found it all "very strange," and that it was entirely a construct between Apple and her record company. She had nothing to do with it, despite Apple continually selling it as a partnership between her, individually, and Apple. Again—boomers in jeans making sure to be seen rather than thinking about: Is this what my users actually want?
    So you want Apple to act like an indie label? It’s a gigantic mega-corporation.  Not gonna happen, ever. 
    No, he wants Apple to talk to indie labels. Actual indie labels, not sub-labels wholly administered by Sony or Universal. 

    He wants them to act like a streaming music service, not a major-label mouthpiece. 
    Good news! They already act like a streaming service. 
    Oh, good! Where does my small independent label contact them for promotion? 

    Snark aside: Your point that Spotify, which does offer this, has yet to make any money, is taken, of course. You're right. 

    However, Spotify being the total shitshow it is probably has very little to do with the fact that they offer such channels. They fuck over artists in every way they can, anyway. 
    1) Not being profitable doesn’t mean they aren’t a for-profit company.

    2) It sounds like you’re using Spotify as an example that is pro-Indie labels in one paragraph and then saying they don’t pay artists in the next. Sure, labels aren’t artists, but  I’d argue that the musicians are the ones that need the most support, not the label trying to make a dollar off the artists.

    3) I seem to recall that Taylor Swift pulled her catalog from Spotify because of poor payouts. And I’m sure many reading that will call her greedy (or worse) because she’s already so successful, but didn’t she help change — for the better — how artists are paid for streaming content?
    edited April 17 ronn
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