Taylor, I’ma let you finish but… Spotify is still one of the best music streaming services of all time.
Now that I got that off my chest, let’s take a look at tall musician Taylor Swift, and her thoughts on the “grand experiment” of Spotify, where she explains why she pulled her entire catalog off of Spotify as her fourth album, 1989, was launching.
Why, Taylor? Why?
In her words*:
If I had streamed the new album, it’s impossible to try to speculate what would have happened. But all I can say is that music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment. And 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. And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free. I wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal this summer that basically portrayed my views on this. I try to stay really open-minded about things, because I do think it’s important to be a part of progress. But I think it’s really still up for debate whether this is actual progress, or whether this is taking the word “music” out of the music industry. Also, a lot of people were suggesting to me that I try putting new music on Spotify with “Shake It Off,” and so I was open-minded about it. I thought, “I will try this; I’ll see how it feels.” It didn’t feel right to me. I felt like I was saying to my fans, “If you create music someday, if you create a painting someday, someone can just walk into a museum, take it off the wall, rip off a corner off it, and it’s theirs now and they don’t have to pay for it.” I didn’t like the perception that it was putting forth. And so I decided to change the way I was doing things.
So you think that Spotify, a service that has existed just as long as your own career, is an experiment? Or that it doesn’t fairly compensate the people that make the music?
Sure. Ok. But what about your fans?
You sold 1.3 million albums this week, which is the most since Eminem in 2002, and you are the only artist in history to have sold more than a million albums in a week on three occasions. If any artist has a little wiggle room with regards to opening up access to more customers, it’s you. And you’re young, Taylor! Didn’t you use Napster or Kazaa or anything as a kid?
Spotify is not the Napster of yesteryear, nor is it any of the illegal file-sharing sites of today. It is a legal way that millions of people listen to music, and that isn’t going to change, no matter what you do with your albums. What they can’t find on Spotify, they can always find on YouTube.
Why fight against the flow of your industry, like the people who came before you and ultimately lost, when you truly have the power to dictate what the newest version of the music industry will look like?
In her words:
Well, my huge dream in this whole thing, which I was told many times was an unrealistic… I was told many times to keep my expectations in check, so I did. But the ultimate dream was, “Can we ring that bell? Can we get a million; can we do this for the third time?” Because we were all very well aware that if we sold a million records this time, it would be the only time in history that someone had done that three times. That was the most insane thing, when we got the first hint that we might end up actually getting to do it. And then my second biggest hope was, “Hey, wouldn’t it be insane if we topped what we did with Red?” And then the fans ended up making that happen, so it’s been just kind of like a dream scenario all the way around. And I just feel so lucky that people seem to understand what I was doing with this album and loved the new direction of it.
Yes, the album does go in a new direction, much like an experiment. But I want to get back to the crux of what powers your decision-making. Your ultimate goal, I see, is to make history. To go down in history as one of the greats.
I think you will, Taylor. I’m not particularly a huge fan of your music, but I listen to it and bop along because that’s what most of us do when your songs come on. You are wonderfully universal in a lot of ways.
You can break records anywhere you want, Taylor. Your fans love you, in part because you seem very genuine.
So why don’t you stay focused on what really matters: your fans. Let them worry about the record-breaking. They’ve got a better handle on it than you do, anyways. Shake it off.
You can read Taylor Swift’s full interview with Yahoo right here.
*Emphasis added by me.