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Apple is scared, says Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan

Technically Incorrect: Corgan believes Apple caved to Taylor Swift because it's scared artists will wake up and realize the power they have. Really?

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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Billy Corgan believes artists can defeat Apple. The Morning Show/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I find it hard to imagine Tim Cook and his fellow executives downing white wine spritzers in panic, as they sit in their white-walled rooms.

This scenario, however, is one that was painted (using sterner, more businesslike language) by the Smashing Pumpkins' front man, Bill Corgan.

Corgan has quite some business brain. So he appeared on CNBC to offer his view of the great handbags-at-dawn brawl between Taylor Swift and Apple.

Should you have been recently detained by a Turkish president with a mustache who wondered why you didn't like his mustache, you may not know that Swift gave Apple a kick in its Dockers on Sunday. Why? For failing to agree that artists should be paid during the three-month free trial of new streaming service Apple Music. (Apple bowed and caved immediately.)

Corgan believes this may have been a significant moment in music history. He told CNBC: "Once artists understand the power they have in this marketplace, all heck's going to break loose. This is a big admission on Apple's part that they're afraid of the negative tide that could be beginning, so they want to nip it in the bud."

Negative tides can be awkward. Tim Cook's Apple has the reputation of dealing with such tides by offering sensitive sandbags, whereas Steve Jobs stood at the shore demanding that the tide retreat or he would personally ensure that all the world's water would be eradicated.

Corgan, though, insisted: "We're not being paid commensurate to our value to Apple, Spotify or to anybody. Once the artists wake up, there's going to be a bloody turf war, and this is a very big sign of what I've been predicting."

Surely the problem is that too many people believe that music should be (practically) free because it's so easy to listen to it without paying.

In a separate part of the interview, Corgan acknowledged that the music industry is still "exploitative."

He added: "The future for music artists is in brand identification. Music will only be, excuse the French, the lubricant to make the bigger deal. The bigger deal will be 'I represent my company and my brand.'"

It's an interesting thought that Apple will now be streaming lubricant. It's also tantalizing to imagine how many artists will be able to cross over into Corgan's way of thinking.

But Billy, you know who's really good at brand identification? Apple.