UPDATE 22/06/2015: After releasing an open letter addressed to Apple, Taylor Swift has managed to alter the way that the new streaming service Apple Music will pay artists for their music during the three month free trial that it is offering.
When the majority of people think of Taylor Swift, the chances are that they’ll think of songs like ‘Shake It Off‘, ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together‘ and ‘22‘ and her newly established pop image. When I think of Taylor Swift, I think of her lyrical talent displayed in songs such as ‘All Too Well‘, ‘Sad Beautiful Tragic‘ and ‘Back to December‘ and her country image. What I would suppose hardly anyone considers when thinking of Taylor Swift is her sense of business and her taking a stand for the music industry, which is exactly what she seems to be in the process of doing.
If you haven’t already heard that Taylor Swift has withdrawn her albums from music streaming platform, Spotify, then you must have been living beneath a rock. Already, there has been huge uproar about Swift’s decision and many fans and Spotify users have criticized her. Spotify is working hard to change the singer’s mind, issuing a statement on their blog yesterday (3rd November 2014), that many of Swift’s song lyrics, to try and persuade the singer to change her mind:
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.
We hope she’ll change her mind and join us in building a new music economy that works for everyone. 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% of our revenue back to the music community.
PS – 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.
The problem is that, with services such as Spotify, artists don’t make anywhere near the same amount of money as they would by selling digital albums and songs on services like iTunes. In fact, according to this beautiful infographic designed by the folks at Information is Beautiful, for a solo artist to earn the US monthly minimum wage ($1,160) their tracks need to be played 4,053,110 times per month on Spotify. From that, the label revenue is $0.0016 and the artist revenue $0.00029. On iTunes, however, a track download that costs $0.99 would need to be sold 12, 399 times for the label revenue to be $0.53 and the artist revenue to be $0.09.
In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, Swift commented that “piracy, file sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically” and expressed her hope that artists did not “underestimate themselves or undervalue their art”, in the editorial she wrote to convey her confidence in the future of the music industry. She is now refusing to return her music to Spotify unless they significantly change their payout structure for artists.
My initial thoughts upon hearing this definitely questioned why Swift would need the extra money, but I think it’s quite evident that she’s not taking a stand solely for her career – whilst it does affect her – but also for every independent artist and musician that services such as Spotify manage to manipulate.
What are your thoughts on the issue? Should she allow her music to be played via Spotify once again, or is she doing the right thing? Is Spotify and services similar to it useful or harmful to the music industry?