How Taylor Swift is Taking A Stand For The Music Industry

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 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If you haven’t already heard that Taylor Swift has withdrawn her albums from music streaming platform, Spotify, then you must have been living beneath a rock.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 imageevident 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?


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3 thoughts on “How Taylor Swift is Taking A Stand For The Music Industry”

  1. I completely disagree. Even if it does give less money to the artists, it makes it more affordable for the everyday person who are the people who are giving those artists the money in the first place. Without the fans and listeners, the artists would be nothing. Swift herself, would be nothing. She, of all people, should be GRATEFUL for everyone who listens to her music, not taking it away from them if they can’t pay and asking for more and more and more as if she doesn’t already have enough. Music shouldn’t be about money, like all art, it should be about making, creating and producing it, not gaining profit from it. If she really cared about true music and ‘music being art’ then she wouldn’t care so much about what she get’s out of it, ESPECIALLY since she is one of the youngest MULTI- MILLIONAIRESSES! How on Earth can she be complaining about not being paid. It’s disgusting.

    And yes maybe some people will argue that ‘She’s not just doing it for herself, she’s doing it for the small, independent artists on spotify too.’ but I disagree, if she cared about them at all, or about anyone at all other than herself, she could easily help them out by donating a miniscule percentage of her money, but no. she’s doing it for herself. She’s doing it for herself because for people like her enough is never enough, even if that means that people who have less than a millionth of the money she has, cant listen to her music without paying her more money. Any respect or admiration I ever had before disappeared entirely after this. You will NEVER find me buying any of her music. The whole thing is disgusting, ridiculous, cruel and DEFINITELY NOT what the future of music is about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Music is an art, but it’s also a profession for many a person. For those who are making a profession out of music, they should not be underpaid. A builder wouldn’t give all of his work away for a miniscule fraction of what he already earns because it’s his profession, and you can argue that building is an art in itself. Just because something is considered an art, it doesn’t mean it should be free.

      They are not taking the music away from people with no money – you can already purchase singles and albums online and offline for small amounts – they are simply ensuring that they are paid the right price for their work or ‘product’. Before the invention of free-streaming platforms such as Spotify were invented, people got on just fine with having to buy music or simply listen to it on the radio. It’s not a necessity, whilst it’s useful. Likewise, artists pulling out of Spotify aren’t disrespecting their fans, or anything like that, because dedicated fans are likely to purchase their music regardless of whether it’s free streaming or 99p per track.

      Whilst I agree that Swift has no need to pull out or demand more money, because she already has a considerable amount, there is a reason smaller, independent artist’s might not want to allow their music to be streamed through Spotify. And those reasons are evidently valid.

      You say that Swift should make a donation to independent artists – Swift is well known for donating a great deal of her money to charities and other people, but how is she supposed to make a donation to every independent artist? That’s not plausible.


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