Spotify, Streaming & Taylor Swift

By Rachel Chen, Opinions Columnist

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(Photo Courtesy of Scott Beale)

Recently, singer-songwriter and darling of the country music scene, Taylor Swift, spurred major controversy within the music industry when she made the decision to pull all of her music off Spotify, a successful music-streaming business with more than 50 million users. The decision stemmed from Swift’s belief that Spotify does not fairly compensate artists and that the business lacks a sort of “inherent value placed on art.” According to Time Magazine, Swift was upset that she had been paid less than $500,000 – $496,044 in the last year for her songs. Borchetta, CEO of Taylor Swift’s record label, Big Machine, also spoke up in outrage, claiming that Swift earns more money from her videos on the video streaming site Vevo than she does through her contract with Spotify.

While the artist’s true fans supported Swift, buying her album either through iTunes in local shopping centers, the rest of the public did not support Swift’s decision. Outraged by her decision, critics have said that Swift is ultimately selfish; she should share her music with the public.

As neither a die-hard fan nor a hater of Swift, I do believe that Swift, to some extent, has the right to be concerned about whether or not she is being properly compensated by the streaming sites that are taking over our social media world. That said, however, I also think that she is taking her concerns to the extreme, looking at the issue from the wrong perspective.

Artists produce music in order to share their passion to inspire their fans while sharing their personal stories and talents. Instead, Swift seems to be too focused on the political and business aspect of the music industry. In fact, boldly pulling her music from Spotify could potentially harm not only her career as an artist, but also her reputation as a person. All business, even the music industry, houses an ugly side wherever money is involved. Swift’s focus, however, should remain on why she became a singer in the first place, her hopes to share her music and talents.

Because there are ten million users or so who do have access to music from a large collection of artists on Spotify, I believe that it is actually a great instrument for artists, including both Swift and emerging new artists who want their music to be heard. It is only through putting their music in an easily accessible setting that people begin to know about them, sharing their music with their friends and increasing interest in artists’ concerts. We do not live in a perfect world and I believe music services such as Spotify and Pandora are the way for artists to get attention. This system actually works in their favor. Since you cannot download music from Spotify or Pandora, Spotify users are more inclined to purchase songs after listening to them, wanting to have the songs on their phones, iPods, or other pocket-sized portable devices.

Taylor Swift made a stand against what she believed, but in the end, it seems like she was very shortsighted. Not only did she lose a portion of her dignity as a music-loving artist, she also lost a great platform for other listeners yet unfamiliar with her music to stumble across it and have a chance of loving it. Because let us be honest—who does not?

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