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Taylor Swift: How I defeated Apple at 4 a.m.

Technically Incorrect: In a gripping Vanity Fair interview, the singer reveals she wrote her infamous letter about Apple Music in the wee small hours of the morning -- the same time she writes her best songs.

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


It isn't that hard to bring a vast corporation to its knees. Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images for TAS

The truly great artists sometimes get their inspiration in the middle of the night.

They don't let sleep get in the way of their creations. Their lives are, after all, ruled by their talents.

And so it was with Taylor Swift when she realized that she had to bear the (musical) standard against the behemoth that is Apple.

In a gripping interview in the September issue of Vanity Fair, Swift describes how she wrote her contemporary "J'Accuse" letter at 4 a.m.

Should you have been unaccountably trapped in your velvet-lined panic room for the last several months, you might not know that Apple had intended not to offer royalties to artists during the free, three-month trial period of Apple Music, its new streaming service.

Swift, though, told Vanity Fair: "The contracts had just gone out to my friends, and one of them sent me a screenshot of one of them. I read the term 'zero percent compensation to rights holders.' Sometimes I'll wake up in the middle of the night and I'll write a song and I can't sleep until I finish it, and it was like that with the letter."

Zero percent, however many times you multiply it, is still nothing. So Swift took to her Tumblr on June 21 and rumbled Apple's ruse.

Had Steve Jobs have still been in power, I fancy he'd have thumbed his nose at La Swift and muttered a twisted Bob Dylan lyric. However, the New Enlightenment Cabal that runs Apple now immediately bowed before her shining light.

Swift explained that she hadn't canvassed the music community about her missive. Instead: "I read it to my mom. She's always going to be the one. I just said, 'I'm really scared of this letter, but I had to write it. I might not post it, but I had to say it.'"

How often do we write letters we never send? How often do we regret not having sent them? And how often do we ask our moms whether we should send them?

Swift had long been concerned about the screaming injustice of streaming. She'd already expressed her frustrations with Spotify last year.

She painted a contrasting picture of Apple and Spotify. She told Vanity Fair: "I found it really ironic that the multibillion-dollar company reacted to criticism with humility, and the start-up with no cash flow reacted to criticism like a corporate machine."

Oh, don't be fooled by those fresh-faced techie types in modern casual, Taylor. They're just as venal as the old corporate types.

In fact, with their libertarian "every person for themselves especially if they've got lots of money" attitude, they might be even worse.