by Morgan Hunt
Last week, I experienced a huge tragedy. At the gym I noticed that my Spotify workout playlist was void of a song found on the list nearly a dozen times: Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”.
I went to search for the rest of her catalog and quickly found out that it was gone. After a brief search, I learned that Swift pulled her entire catalog from Spotify for reasons that are somewhere along the lines of her believing that music is art that she deserves to get credit–in the form of cash–for what she produces.
This raised a couple really serious questions: First, why does a legal adult (me) have a pop anthem for tweens on their playlist more times than is reasonable, and second, what does Swift’s action mean for other artists and their decision to use media platforms like Spotify?
For obvious reasons, I’ll only address the second question here, because it’s truly the more important of the two.
The radical decision by Swift to pull all her music from Spotify (something she’s done before to a lesser extent with her 2012 release Red) caused a number of opinions to form on the subject of , including my own. I’ve already read pieces where people are claiming that Swift did the right thing by removing her music from a platform that they believe is killing the music industry, but as a child of the digital era, I feel that Swift and those such as Jason Aldean who are following in her footsteps are making a huge mistake.
Being 18 means I’ve grown up completely immersed in the idea of digital music. While I still purchase physical CDs for artists that I love, I’m still an avid listener on free online platforms like Spotify, Pandora and even Soundcloud. It’s more convenient. I don’t have to lug cases of CDs around nor do I have to fill my phone with purchased music. But, as I said, this does not mean that I do not often count down the days until my favorite artist releases a new CD so I can run down to Target and buy it, and judging by the 1.3 million (and counting) copies of Swift’s 1989 already sold, I’m not the only one who does this.
It seems like a greedy move to pull music from a service that offers listeners a chance to explore new music for free. Spotify pays for every play, giving back more than $2 billion dollars to artists and labels since its inception. So what’s the point?
I can understand Swift wanting people to go out and buy her album, I truly can, but if fans are listening online and appreciating it there, what’s the difference? The most important thing is that there’s no shortage of people who still go out and see Swift, or Jason Aldean when they’re on tour which is really the big money-maker for modern artists.
Spotify is not the death of the music industry, not even close. It gives users a chance to listen to new albums, artists and genres on a platform that does give back to those who make it. Pulling an album or an entire catalog is doing nothing but making your music less accessible to listeners in the digital era age group who find CDs somewhat of a waste.
With this stunt, it seems to me that Swift does not really care about her music being listened to as long as her bank account keeps growing.