Taylor Swift fans are running hot and cold this month. Swift’s release of “1989” was a massive success that outperformed all expectations and has everybody singing her praises, but last week Swift removed all her music from Spotify, a subscription-based music streaming app.
“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,” Swift told Yahoo last week.Spotify CEO Daniel Ek noted on the company’s blog that they have paid over $2 billion in royalties for the music they stream and he is willing to work with her to reach what she considers a fair price.
Several artists disagree with Swift’s complaints about compensation. Radiohead’s album “In Rainbows,” released in 2007, allowed fans to pay whatever they wanted. Many artists put their own material on the internet to be downloaded for free; Lady Gaga, for example, has leaked three of her five albums.
“People ask me how I make money selling albums, and I just wonder what they need all this money for,” Gaga told Google. “I’m an artist and I think art should be free.”
Swift is in good company with fellow artists who choose to avoid streaming services. Garth Brooks and AC/DC still refuse to put their music on Spotify, and only in the last year did Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and KISS allow the app access to their discographies. There’s even a tumblr dedicated to music missing from Spotify’s library (www.greatmusicnotonspotify.tumblr.com). Artists have other reasons to keep their music off of Spotify or iTunes besides losing money. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Brooks has sold more albums than any artist since 1991 and said he believes the ability to download a single song instead of an album in its entirety compromises the artistic integrity of the work.
“An album is a reflection of who an artist is at the time,” Brooks told Larry King in 2010. “The whole thing is supposed to be one big piece, but (iTunes) wants to cut it up.”
Spotify said in a statement on their website that over 16 million people listened to Swift’s music just in the 30 days prior to her decision to pull her catalogue. The company has started a campaign to rally fans to ask Taylor back onto the app, making a playlist called “What to play while Taylor’s away.” Spotify also sent her an open letter: “Taylor, we were both young when we first saw you, but now there’s more than 40 million of us who want you to stay, stay, stay. It’s a love story, baby, just say yes.”