In case you live under a rock, Taylor Swift’s new album 1989 recently recoded the best first-week sales since The Eminem Show in 2002. It is also the first platinum album of 2014.
Oh, and after all of this widespread success, Swift decided to yank her entire discography from Spotify, and let’s just say, not too many people were happy.
Semi-religious Taylor Swift fans were upset that they would actually have to buy Swift’s music. Closet fans were annoyed that they would never hear 1989, because they don’t want to actually spend the money to buy the album, and Spotify was so upset it wrote Swift a love letter. But Swift won’t budge, saying that she didn’t want to take part in the “experiment,” leaving Spotify users to pray that other artists don’t follow her lead.
However, Taylor Swift does seem a little misguided in her sudden actions.
Swift’s main argument was that music isn’t free, giving listeners the idea that Spotify isn’t paying artists, but contrary to popular belief, she is getting money from Spotify. Even though it is only a fraction of a cent, Swift is gets more money from Spotify than she does when her songs are played on the radio or when someone watches a music video on YouTube. If “Blank Space” had as many plays on Spotify as it did on YouTube, Spotify would owe Taylor Swift and her royalties more than 600 thousand dollars.
And sure, Swift does have a point: music should have some value, and the world would be a perfect place if all musicians everywhere could pay their rent, but when you’re a huge pop star who can sell out arenas all over the country, you don’t really have the right to complain about the size of your paycheck. Besides, we all know top-50 artists don’t really need the money they make from their albums—earlier this year, U2 invaded our iTunes library with a free album.
But isn’t the main point that Swift’s sudden removal of her music is sending the wrong message about music? Isn’t art supposed to be seen and heard? Isn’t the point of making music so that you can share it with others? Sure, musicians need to make a living, but concert ticket prices are astronomical, and people will always purchase music by artists they love. Spotify can actually be a great thing for up-and-coming artists because it gets their music heard and allows them to see how many people listen to their songs.
If Taylor Swift wants to prevent people from listening to her music for free, that’s fine by me—but she should make sure to stay true to her word and allow her songs to be heard on the radio and on YouTube. Otherwise, she’d be devaluing art, and no one wants that.