Spotify has just lost one of its big kahunas.
On 3 November 2014, Taylor Swift parted ways with the music streaming service and removed all her albums and singles, leaving Swifties from around the world greatly upset. Especially since her latest album, 1989, was released last Monday.
Hoping to make things right and get Swift back on board, Spotify embarked on a social media crusade quoting lyrics from the 24-year-old’s hit single, Love Story: “Taylor, we were both young when we first saw you, but now there’s more than 40 million of us who want you to stay, stay, stay. It’s a love story, baby, just say, Yes.”
If you’d ask me, it’s about time. I’m hardly surprised about Swift’s straight-from-the-shoulder move. Back in July, the singer has shared her distaste and wrote an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal, citing that file sharing and streaming “have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically”. Ironically enough, her music can still be found on other music streaming platforms like Beats Music and Google Play All Access.
According to The Verge, the Shake It Off hit-maker seems to have a problem with Spotify’s free, ad-sponsored tier. This isn’t the first time the company has drawn flak from artistes. During an interview with Billboard, Patrick Carney, the drummer of American rock duo The Black Keys, criticized Spotify for its unfair pay scale.
“My whole thing about music is: if somebody’s making money then the artist should be getting a fair cut of it. The owner of Spotify is worth something like 3 billion dollars… He’s richer than Paul McCartney and he’s 30 and he’s never written a song.”
Amongst the list of musicians against Spotify is Radiohead’s lead singer Thom Yorke, Beyonce, Coldplay, Beck and indie rock band Grizzly Bear.
“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.” – Spotify’s statement on Taylor Swift’s decision
Having read this article about how musicians make money on digital royalties on The Atlantic, I find this statement rather misleading. Give it a read, it’s mind-blowing! Is Spotify really paying enough royalties to artistes? Or is this yet another different matter? Exactly how much do record labels pay their musicians? I’m currently using Spotify’s Premium feature and I like to think that most of my money is going towards to my favourite bands for their music, but I have no idea.
Truth: music streaming services are a staple. With a platform like Spotify, there’s no reason why anyone should download music illegally. It is a must-have for the twenty-first century. But it’s also high-time for Spotify to rethink its program and start to compensate artists fairly. It needs some fine adjustments to benefit musicians. This way, it’ll be a win-win for both parties.
If an established singer with a net worth of $200 million is already giving up on Spotify, I would hate to think what’s going to happen to obscure musicians. I would be heartsick if these undiscovered artistes leave the digital music service. I still buy CDs from music stores. I read pop culture magazines, both print and digital. I rely on word-of-mouth when it comes to music, too. But it’s audio platforms like Soundcloud and Spotify that truly kicked the discovery of music up to a notch. I’m not ready to give up on it yet. I do, however, reserve the right to change my mind.