It seems that Apple may be pinching its pennies when it comes to “Today at Apple”. At least, that’s what artists are telling San Fransisco NPR station KQED. According to sources in the article, Apple has been stealing a line from Craigslist posts, effectively telling presenters they won’t be getting paid, but the exposure will be great!
According to Ayodele Nzinga, a playwright who presented last month at San Fransisco’s Union Square Apple Store, several artists gathered to share their expertise and art. At the end of the night, none were paid – not in the monetary sense. Instead, they were presented with Apple products.
Other artists interviewed by KQED corroborated the story. Instead of paying in cash, artists were offered a choice of an Apple Watch, AirPods, or Apple TV.
While receiving goods can be seen as a form of “payment”, many artists feel (and we agree) that it’s taking advantage of people who are working hard to share their craft. Additionally, paying in “exposure” isn’t something the world’s largest company should deem acceptable.
The “Today at Apple” series is designed as a way for artists and creatives to showcase their talents and expertise with their fans and visitors in the Apple Store. In doing so, Apple is creating a bridge for the fans to be customers in their store.
According to sources, the entire experience leaves significant work to the performer. Apple provides no promotional or marketing materials to presenters for the “Today at Apple” series. This leaves the work up to the performer, adding time, and potentially money, on to their commitment.
“I was a little disappointed that they weren’t maximizing the moment as much as they could because they’re a huge tech company,” said Nzinga. “They think the platform is sufficient,” she adds. “Of course, we have to pay rent like other people.”
The “Today at Apple” series was introduced shortly after Angela Ahrendts was introduced as SVP of Retail at Apple. Since then, the series has seen mixed results. Last month, Ahrendts announced that she was leaving Apple, so the future of the series – and its compensation practices – may change.
For now, it’s important for artists and presenters to understand the arrangement in advance, and decide whether some moderately priced tech is an acceptable form of payment. In the long-term, if Apple intends to keep the series around, they should be doing more to show that they care about the arts. Whether that means providing more promotion or simply compensating artists, Apple has the resources to make a difference.