Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Logic Behind Taylor Swift Fleeing Spotify

Taylor Swift 1989 image
Taylor Swift and her label Big Machine made a bold statement today by pulling all of her music from Spotify. Here’s another case of a music superstar railing against the new delivery norm, as consumers increasingly move that way, and artists and record labels complain about it.

It’s ironic that Ms. Swift has such negative feelings toward music streaming (as evidenced by her recent Wall Street Journal editorial), yet has long been a champion of social media, using Facebook and Twitter to its utmost to build her fan base. Her engagement is through the roof as she walks the walk and makes her fans feel like they’re a part of her life and she a part of theirs, which is really difficult to do with 46 million Twitter and 70 million Facebook followers. That said, if she’s really all that socially aware, she of all people should know that streaming is where the future lies, as more and more music consumers move that way every day.

Already there’s somewhat of a negative blowback from her fans, with many reacting with outrage via Twitter to label Swift as greedy. After all, a huge amount of her fan base does live there, with 16 million of the company’s 40 million subscribers having played one of her songs in the last month, and 19 million having her on their playlists. And now her music is gone, and to what end?

If I had to make a guess, I would think that the thinking behind this decision was to try to eek out every last sale of her new 1989 album as possible, and maybe there’s actually some sound reasoning behind that. The opportunity to cash in on a physical product might not be possible the next time Swift drops an album, as tastes and trends move on, so it makes sense to sell as many as possible while there’s still a market for it. Read more on Forbes.
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4 comments:

Russel said...

It may be a controversial move but she just made some money off of me. I'm a DJ and instead of using Spotify tonight I just bought Shake it Off on Amazon.

Peter McDonald said...

A band I like (Katatonia) did a similar move after they found they were on Spotify without their consent. After a period of time they chose to re-add themselves.

Steve Greenberg said...

While streaming of music may be the future I think it is more than fair to say that this is not because it is better for the artist. Like online retail, cloud computing, Wal Mart and most other things in our society, the control, power and money is increasingly shifting to the top. Large corporations use technology to control distribution and make many billions by dropping the prices for consumers while retaining their piece of the profits. Not a bad thing, not a conspiracy, but it is the reality.

Yes, this brings convenience to the consumer, there is no about the fact that it is easier and less expensive to listen to music on Spotify than to buy it, and, it is more convenient than stealing MP3s.

However, can we honestly say that the artist is compensated fairly? Sure we can say that you make it up in other areas, the game has changed and you have to move on and sell merchandise and tickets. I don't think that changes the fact that the artist is getting crumbs and at the end of the day THEY are the ones they conceived, created and executed the art work.

Now Taylor Swift is clearly a unique situation on many levels. She actually sells millions of albums, which is impressive in this day and age, she writes her own music, and, she seems to be a public figure that is easy to dislike, dismiss or criticize for many people.

It is very different when she pulls her music from Spotify than an unknown artist. She still made millions in the last few weeks and will prosper on touring and merchandise. However, I think she is actually right. I don't think it will change the times, change the business or change the long term outcome, but she is correct in what she is saying. I respect her for taking a stance and sending a message. I think it is going to help out other artists without her level of recognition in ways that we can't foresee right now.

If you doubt this, consider one simple fact. Why has the entire music industry accepted MP3 quality formats? As CDs emerged and it was generally believed among perceptive listeners and experts that 16/44.1 was a good effort for the time, but inadequate sonically. Now somehow MP3 is okay?

People say over and over that it is because of size of data transfer and that people just don't care. This is simply not true. Maybe in the 90s and early 2000s music files were too big. Not anymore, video is king and clearly those files are much bigger than audio files. It is greed pure and simple, it costs less to provide files in which important ingredients are left out. They do it with processed foods too, no one complains and it is cheaper so it keeps on going....

It is commerce and greed, simple and without doubt. I am not saying it can be changed, but Taylor is right and I respect her speaking up as a lone voice in all the clamor of commerce.

Rand said...

Well said Steve. You've hit the nail right on the head...

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