Great book review of Jonathan Taplin’s new book.
Will Taylor Swift ultimately emerge as a role model for musicians, writers and other artists toiling in the pastures of pop culture? This could become reality because the pop megastar took on a role usually assumed by investigative journalists: She decided to “follow the money.” So when she discovered Apple was prepared to give away her songs for free (no royalties) in a promotion for its streaming service, Swift told Apple, “I don’t ask for free iPhones, so why free music?” Apple backed down after Swift wrote an open letter to its CEO Tim Cook, and not only paid for her music offering during the promotion period, but the tunes of every other artist.
Swift’s rebellion may pay dividends long term by pointing up this broader question: Why is it that, while vastly more creative content is being consumed worldwide, less revenue is flowing to the people who create it? This is the issue probed by Jonathan Taplin in an important new book that demonstrates how intellectual property has been hijacked by what he calls the new “marketing monoculture” led by Facebook, Amazon and Google. Taplin even puts a number on it: He estimates that some $50 billion a year has been quietly shifting from content creators to “owners of the monopoly platforms.”