The Swift vs. Spotify Conundrum

“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,” said pop sensation Taylor Swift to Yahoo following her public refusal to support the music industry’s arguably most popular streaming service, Spotify.

The songstress initially refused to stream her new album 1989, but later made the decision to remove her entire catalogue from Spotify. Swift is not the first to raise issues with the streaming service – Radiohead’s Thom Yorke described it as, “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse” – alas, she’s the first to take initiative.

It’s difficult to get the whole picture, but two things are very clear in this situation. First: Taylor Swift herself, her label, and several other artists feel that Spotify is doing the music industry a disservice. Secondly: Spotify and its supporters would dissent regarding the way people are getting their music today and would argue that artists are benefitting from this kind of streaming rather than being cheated out of entitlements.

With over 50 million active users and 12.5 million paying subscribers, Spotify has gathered itself quite the fan base since its launch in 2008. For chart artists like Swift such numbers amount to decent rewards. According to Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, based on projected audiences prior to pulling her music, Swift was on course to earn a whopping $6 million a year—unfortunately, the figure didn’t seem to cut it for the singer.

In Swift’s opinion, such earnings are not nearly enough in perspective to her label’s efforts. She expressed such opinions in an interview with TIME Magazine, “I think there should be an inherent value placed on art. I didn’t see that happening, perception-wise, when I put my music on Spotify”.

So basically what she’s saying is that her fans shouldn’t want to listen to her music for free? For artists who are just starting out, streaming services are certainly not enough to make a living from but for Swift, who reportedly made $40 million in 2013 alone, making her America’s highest paid artist according to Billboard, finance is not a major concern. Swift gives the impression that her music is so priceless that it shouldn’t be accessible to audiences in all locations and situations, thus helping her fan base grow.

Whether the singer likes it or not, there’s no denying that streaming services like Spotify are the future of music. For someone with such an appreciation for her fans such a decision is rather contradictory, but she has made this one and it must be respected. In the meantime, fans can only estimate how long 1989 will remain at the top spot on pirate service, Grooveshark.

Scout Mitchell

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