Taylor Swift fans who use Spotify were dealt a tough blow yesterday. While her newest album, 1989, had yet to stream on the music service, Swift's label, Big Machine Music, also yanked Swift's entire back catalog from Spotify. That means that if you're shaking it off to "Out of the Woods" and have the urge to listen to "You Belong With Me," you'll have to go elsewhere to get your early Swift fix.
Swift has always been an ardent supporter of paying for music. She penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal earlier this year in which she wrote that, "Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable." Swift didn't just bemoan the current state of the music industry though — she offered solutions. Swift wrote that artists have to make people want to buy their songs and albums.
She knows what she's talking about. According to Billboard, 1989 had the biggest opening sales week of any album since 2002, and it was primed to sell over 1.3 million copies. Would 1989 have been purchased by that many people if it were readily available on Spotify? Industry experts say it was still possible.
The New York Posts notes that Swift's back catalog is still available on services like Rhapsody and Rdio, which offer paid subscription plans. Spotify does too, but artists are wary of the limited number of ads on its free service.
That may not be the only issue here, though. Jeff Rabhan, the chair of the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU, told The Post that Swift might be planning to "use her music to boost a rival streaming service or perhaps even try to create her own."
Spotify issued a statement in response to Swift and Big Machine Music's decision. "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."
The streaming platform also made two playlists to listen to in Swift's absence from Spotify. When read in succession, the song titles on the first playlist say, "Hey Taylor, We wanted to play your amazing love songs and they're not here right now."
Spotify to Taylor Swift: Why can't you see? You belong with me.