Was Taylor Swift onto something?
The singer is notorious for her turbulent relationships, and her dialogue with streaming services is no different. After Swift and several independent labels spoke out against Apple – who were not paying royalties to music labels and publishers during their three-month free trial – the company decided to change their policy. Swift’s strong defiance against Spotify was short-winded, however – after appearing to take a stand for all musicians by removing her music from the service on the grounds of unfair payment, she has since put her music back on Spotify. She claimed it was a demonstration of her gratitude to her fans, whilst sceptics argued that it was a way of competing with her rival Katy Perry.
As much as I enjoy Taylor Swift’s poppy goodness, though, I am not particularly concerned about debating the sincerity of her moral standpoints- what is important to me is that she brought to light some of the injustices for artists in the current music industry. Unlike Swift, lesser known artists do not have the privilege of refusing streaming services, as it is the main way people listen to music nowadays. As a member of a wee band myself, we have to invest in a yearly contract to Spotify, the rate we receive back for our listens constantly change and we are only ever given an estimate of how much we receive per track- the latest receipt noting ‘0.00064p’.
It isn’t viable for an artist to survive without money. It’s as simple as that. Recording is expensive, equipment is expensive and less people are buying music. Having said all this, I admit that I use Spotify. If it’s there and it’s free, of course people will use it. Musicians and fans alike need to come together, take to social media, and confront these streaming services, as that is the only way real changes can happen. As it stands at the moment, making music is an investment unless you hit the big time!
Taylor Swift is not the first to boycott Spotify and I don’t think she’ll be the last. Sadly, nor do I think she’ll be the last to backpedal (pardon the vaguely musical pun).