Taylor Swift's artist profile on the music-streaming service, Spotify, is blank except for a single song from a movie soundtrack. Why?
Despite Swift’s good-girl image — her love of fluffy cats, red lipstick and all things girly — the singer is a powerhouse in the music industry. Spotify acknowledged this on its website, which cited that nearly 16 million users have streamed Swift’s songs over the past 30 days.
With websites like Mashable reporting that Spotify pays artists and right holders less than a cent per stream, the decision ultimately raises a conversation about artist compensation in a new age of streaming and digital music. I’ve scanned the Spotify site looking for answers but I can’t find any, probably because I have about four hours of experience paying attention to how artists are compensated and Spotify’s payment model is very complicated.
On the other side, I can’t find much about why Swift chose to pull all of her songs from Spotify right now. Her songs are still available for purchase and through streaming on paid services like Google Play Music and iTunes. There’s no statement (at least that I can find) on whether this was the choice of the label, her management, Swift herself or a combination of the three.
But the release of her new album last week, which is breaking all kinds of records, and the announcement of a world tour could have something to do with it.
In any case, when you get past the constant tweeting and crying-face emojis, there’s a real debate here. Does the fault lie with services like Spotify not paying enough to labels, or are the labels to blame for not giving the right percentage to their artists? I don’t know and I’m pretty sure a lot of other fans don’t know either.
However, if the decision sparked the same kind of investigation for Swift’s other 1.9 million Spotify followers, then there will be a lot of talk regarding artist compensation in the near future. Although this conflict prohibits us from listening to “Teardrops on My Guitar” for the nine billionth time, it might be for the best in regards to conversation on an important issue.
But please, T-Swizzle, re-release “Dear John” on Spotify in case a boy breaks my heart before this conflict is resolved. Thanks.
Emily Bamforth is a senior studying journalism and a culture writer at The Post. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org