The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Taylor Swift shakes it off with Spotify


“But I don’t even have a CD player!” exclaimed Justine K. (12). She was holding a gift CD in her hands: the latest Taylor Swift album, 1989. This album holds the record for the hottest debut in the past decade, selling over 1.2 million copies within the first week. Justine originally wanted to listen to the album on Spotify but that plan was smashed when Swift decided to “breakup” with the streaming music industry.
Swift’s latest album didn’t even make it to Spotify, the widely popular digital music service that provides subscribers with millions of songs, or any other streaming service, as her record label failed to agree with the companies’ proposal. Even YouTube videos of songs from 1989 were removed or muted. She didn’t stop there, though. Swift moved on by pulling her entire collection from Spotify, causing an outcry from Spotify subscribers, as they aren’t able to shake to Shake It Off. This move left fans with only 2 avenues to drive down if they wanted to hear Swift’s latest album: buy a physical CD or purchase the album from an online music store such as iTunes or Amazon.
Swift has campaigned against streaming services for a long time. She knew Spotify was trouble when it walked in the music world. Even her last album Red was withheld from Spotify for a couple of months. It looked like she was playing hard to get at first, but now it’s a divorce.
“My hope for the future, not just in the music industry, but in every young girl I meet…is that they all realize their worth and ask for it,” she wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.”
Regardless of her reasoning, many fans have voiced complaints about the decision.
“She’s a pop artist who primarily targets teenagers, and teenager these days don’t usually buy CDs or digital albums,” said Annie C. (12). “It’s surprising she would do such a thing.”
Depending on the approach, some believe that the ultimate goal for artists is to reach and impact as many people as possible. In this case, Swift’s decision might be considered as counter-intuitive. Others argue that as a fan of an artist, people should pay for the valuable artworks they create to support them.
Swift’s “dumping” of the music streaming industry, though backed by the argument that art is something that should be paid for is speculated by some to be a money-grabbing tactic to maximize revenues for her highly anticipated album.
But a big question is yet to be answered: will Swift actually make more money by selling only physical and digital albums?
Scott Borchetta, the CEO of Swift’s record label Big Machine, told Time Magazine that the label earned only $500,000 from domestic streaming on Spotify in the past year. However, Spotify told Time Magazine that the amount the service paid for streams of Swift’s music in the past year was actually $2 million if you account for global streams as well as domestic. They also noted that they were on track to pay $6 million over the next year before Swift pulled her catalog.
“Ultimately, the question of whether artists like Taylor Swift and others will make more money from album sales than from streaming royalties has already been answered,” said Dr. Robert Bruce, the AP Economics teacher at TAS. “Just as iTunes heralded the decline of the traditional record store and sales of physical albums, music streaming services will eventually supplant digital downloads in primacy.”
Dr. Bruce argues that it all boils down to the cash, stating that the Beatles and EMI, who originally refused to have their catalog on iTunes, eventually gave in in 2010. “The same thing will ultimately happen with streaming,” he said.
But at the end of the day, music is all about being an art form. As Dr. Bruce puts it, “music ultimately is a highly personal experience about hearing the right song at the right time for the right emotion, and highly personalized and adaptive playlists in an online streaming service that knows you are the future.”
Some may want to have access to the entire world’s catalog at their fingertips while others might only want to hang on to a few of their personal attachments. Justine has access to one of the most desirable album out right now. Now she just needs a player to join Swift’s game of love.

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    Yason HsuDec 15, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    I was dismayed at first when she decided to withdraw all of her music from Spotify, but after a brief period of depression, I have found new substitutes such as Selena Gomez and Britney Spears. I hope that they keep their music on Spotify, although Taylor Swift is still my personal favorite.