By Mir Khan ‘15 and Saif Khalique ‘15
Taylor Swift’s recent album, 1989, has broken records by selling about 1.2 million copies in the United States in the first week after its release. This achievement hasn’t been reached by another artist since 2002, when rapper Eminem released his album, The Eminem Show. Despite this success, many of Swift’s fans that use the music streaming service Spotify have been left in the dark because the artist has decided to not release her new album on the service. Also, all of Swift’s fans that rely on Spotify cannot listen to any previously released music by the acclaimed country pop star.
So why is Swift breaking all ties with Spotify? Her reasoning lies in how Spotify conducts its business model. Anyone who signs up and makes an account can listen to any available song on the streaming platform for free. This deal, however, is not without a caveat as members are forced to only listen to playlists on shuffle, and are subjected to a myriad of advertisements. This can be bypassed by paying $9.99 a month for Spotify Premium. The advertisements and the premium membership allows Spotify to pay for their day-to-day operations, but this comes with a cost to the artists. Their music can be streamed on the service for little to no payoff, which is why Swift took a firm stand against the company.
Swift also argues that she is taking this stand for the music industry as a whole. “Everybody’s complaining about how music sales are shrinking, but nobody’s changing the way they’re doing things. They keep running towards streaming, which is, for the most part, what has been shrinking the numbers of paid album sales.” Swift hopes that many other artists will emulate her decision when it comes to streaming services for the sake of their music and career.
Opponents of Swift argue that this is just a short-term publicity stunt for her new album. Others like artists Zoë Keating support Swift and believe that Spotify does more harm than good, especially for artists who have yet to rise to such immense fame like Swift. Keating has put up her cello compositions on iTunes and Bandcamp, where she has earned $51,000 and $52,0000 respectively compared to the $1,900 for 480,000 streams on Spotify. It’s clear which platforms are more beneficial for artists.
Technites have their own opinions on the issue. Yasmin Fouchong-Brown ’15, said that “It is unfair for listeners on Spotify, but you also have to take into account how much money artists on the platform actually make. Taylor Swift has a fair justification for taking her music off the platform.”
Makeda Lynch ‘15, said that “It was an extreme move on Taylor Swift’s part on taking out her music since she makes enough money as [it] is from other sources.”
Sajidul Chowdury ‘15 states that, “It is fair because millions of people listen to Swift’s music on Spotify. It would add up for Swift unlike other smaller artists. Despite this, she is justified in taking off her music off the platform as she worked for that money like anyone else. It is her content, and she should be properly compensated for her work.”
Freshman Thamid Ahmed ’19 said “I think it is unfair that they make such little money, but you have to take into consideration how much money they already have. I think it is justified that she left, because she made so little.”
Despite what you may think, Spotify’s business model is blatantly skewed in favor of the music streaming. Perhaps if the service offered a way to buy the artists’ music through links to other platforms such as iTunes, its business model would be more justifiable. As of now, Spotify may need some work if it hopes to regain the favor of Taylor Swift and other artists who feel as if they are being a bit cheated.