Swift removes albums from Spotify, causes outrage

By Caroline Dorey-Stein, Contributing Writer ||

As a commercial music streaming service, Spotify provides content from record labels including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal. Similar (but arguably better) than Pandora, Spotify allows users to browse or search music by artist, album, genre, playlist or record label. For just $10 per month or $5, for us college students, the premium subscription eliminates advertisements and enables users to listen and manage playlists on mobile devices in addition to computers. It’s a great deal for those who take pride in creating and sharing tracks in addition to staying up to date with the music industry’s latest releases on “New Music Tuesday.”

However, for all the Taylor Swift fans, this week did not bring good news. On Monday, Nov. 3, Swift’s Nashville label, Big Machine Label Group, pulled the pop singer’s entire catalog of music from Spotify. After the release of her new album 1989 last Tuesday, Swift and the record company decided it would only be for actual sale, not streaming.

In a post on the Anglo-Swedish company’s blog, Spotify said it regretted the artist’s decision and that it hoped Swift would reconsider. The announcement went as far as to say, “We love Taylor Swift, and our more than 40 million users love her even more; nearly 16 million of them have played her songs in the last 30 days, and she’s on over 19 million playlists.”

A giant star in the United States, Swift requested several months ago that Spotify stream her new album only outside of the country, as she is still trying to increase her fan base worldwide. Spotify ignored this request as the service requires all artists to make their music available in all of the 58 countries it operates. The requests by the label did not stop there. Another demand placed on Spotify was to only permit paying Spotify subscribers access to the music. This was again disregarded since the streaming service uses its free listening approach as a way to hook new customers as bait to
subscribe.

Big Machine has not pulled her catalog from other on-demand streaming companies such as Apple Inc.’s Beats Music or Rdio because these services only allow paying subscribers listening access. Labels have the ability to pull an artist’s work from Spotify with just a few days notice, however most labels have long-term contracts that prevent abrupt withdrawals.

In her first interview since pulling her music off the service, Swift claimed that Spotify isn’t paying musicians and the others involved with the music production enough money. “All I can say is that music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment,” Swift told Yahoo. “And I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music.”

Over the past summer, Swift also wrote an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal stating her disapproval of the ever-growing perception that music should be free. But despite this, for a while she let Spotify listeners hear her album’s lead single, “Shake It Off,” for free, but in the end decided to pull the song from Spotify, saying it “didn’t feel right.”

Yet Spotify remains unshaken following the departure of Swift. The company firmly believes it is doing the right thing for artists and the industry on a grand scale. In Ben Sisario’s New York Times article “Taylor Swift Announces World Tour and Pulls Her Music From Spotify,” Spotify stated that, “We believe fans should be able to listen to music wherever and whenever they want, and that artists have an absolute right to be paid for their work and protected from piracy. That’s why we pay nearly 70 percent of our revenue back to the music community.”

But in true T. Swift style, it seems that she and the music streaming company will never ever be getting back together– at least for now.

Senior Caroline Dorey-Stein is a contributing writer. Her email is caroline.dorey-stein@fandm.edu.

 

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