I’ve decided to branch out a bit for this one. I Almost Do* all my blogs about football and I fancied a change. So this one is about music – And don’t worry it’s not 1500 words on why Victoria Beckham was the best Spice Girl, for those of you already familiar with my (some say appalling, I say wonderful) taste in music.
Anyway, this is about Taylor Swift and the beef she’s got with Spotify.
If you don’t know Taylor Swift, that country-turned-pop singer, made famous in the UK for her song about how Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet would have concluded if it were written by Disney, and for a goat’s very accurate impression of her, has banned top music streaming site Spotify from uploading not only her new album ‘1989’ (yes that was the year she was born) but also her entire back catalogue.
Below is her latest single (which is not on Spotify).
Taylor claims that music is art and art is valuable and valuable things should be paid for, hence why she’s not allowed Spotify to upload the new album, and why she’s removed the rest of her music from the site. And to a great extent she is right. Music is art and it should be paid for – but many people do pay for the privilege of Spotify (Premium) and she does, well would, actually get a cut of that.
A massive music fan myself, I use Spotify but It’s not my sole or main source of music. If I’m honest I preferred the music industry when I was a kid, before YouTube, before iTunes and before Spotify, where I’d have to watch The Box or MTV (When MTV was actually music orientated and not the Geordie Shore, 16 and Pregnant-filled nonsense it is today) all day in the hope I’d see my new favourite song/video, and wait until the release date to finally listen to a song/album at my own leisure and it be a physical, tangible CD or going back even further, cassette tape.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that I can now access almost any song I want and purchase/stream it at my heart’s content, I mean, think of the number of Charity Shops I’d have had to have traipsed through to find Adam Rickitt’s ‘I Breathe Again’ on CD Single if I hadn’t downloaded it off iTunes… But ultimately downloading and now streaming is killing the music industry.
Taylor’s not the only one suffering from poorer music sales. Singles these days have to be brand spanking new to stand any chance of chart success, for as soon as an album is released, you can buy that song any time you like, much earlier than the ‘official release date’ which is now pretty much pointless for these songs. Back in the day You’d either have to pay the tenner for the album or wait until the single was released on CD if it was just that you wanted.
I’m a traditionalist. Whilst I’ve spent well over £100 in the last year or so on iTunes, I have never bought a full album via download. I prefer the physical copy (which I can transfer to iTunes myself anyway). I like to look at the photos, lyrics and thank yous in the booklet as I’m listening to the album, and while physical albums are available to purchase I will continue doing so, even if it is cheaper to download them.
So, if I want to buy Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ I’d pop to HMV and get it. It’s upsetting that some great songs/albums don’t get the sales/chart recognition they deserve because of the recent advances in technology, but that’s how it goes. And in all fairness, whilst the internet has it’s downsides in the music industry, it has a lot of positives too.
Think of the acts signed up because thanks to recognition of their ‘art’ uploaded to YouTube. In fact three ‘YouTube stars’ even appeared on the new Band Aid single, which speaks volumes. Uploading music videos to the site as opposed to having to wait/request them on music channels again generates more interest and more sales. Would 19.6 million people in the space of just 24 hours have been able to see Nicki Minaj twerking in every position known to man ten years ago?
Not to mention, could Beyoncé have Beyoncéd her album ‘Beyoncé’ ten years ago and it have anywhere near the success it has done? Nope.
But yeah there are issues with the music industry these days and I can understand it causing some concern to Ms Swift. On the contrary, I can’t help but feel in this situation her issue with Spotify is just her being greedy.
I am a Taylor Swift fan, more so recently when lead single from the new album ‘Shake It Off’ dropped. Having heard and paid for That. Sick. Beat. I was looking forward to hearing the rest of the record, as were many other people, but was left disappointed when I found out I couldn’t get hold of it on Spotify. I like to try before I buy and I’m not prepared, in this day and age, to spend my money on an album I’ve yet to hear, unless it’s by one of my absolute favourite artists, and I’m sorry Tay, but you’re not one of mine (yet).
Taylor wanted Swift record sales, and she got them as people did go out and buy, or stay in and download, her album, making ‘1989’ number one in both America and the UK, having sold 1.28 million copies, giving her the highest first week sales since 2002. She knows she’s not the Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo of the game that is the (female) music industry so she’s employed that tactic and it paid off for her, but at some price.
I’ve still not heard the album in full, somewhat hypocritical of me having uploaded a photo of my own recreation of the cover, and whilst I love what I’ve heard so far and having heard rave reviews of the album, I don’t like the idea that I have to pay for the whole thing in case the 10+ tracks I haven’t heard are shit.
My friend Bally, one of the most dedicated music fans I know (He’s been to see Beyoncé about 163 times in the last year, both here and abroad (and she isn’t cheap)), agrees that Taylor’s mugging folk off for these sales records when actually she’s doing more harm than good.
I won’t quote Bally (because he aired his views via Snapchat which is not the most ideal method of interview if I’m quite honest with you) but he won’t mind me giving you the gist of what he said. He feels that artists like Taylor who do want to maximise first week sales have every right to, but feels after that the records should be made available to stream.
We mustn’t forget that since July of this year Spotify and other streaming websites (there are other streaming websites?!) actually contribute to chart position in the UK, but Bally thinks that only after the first two or three weeks of an album being released, where it gets the majority of its sales, it should go on to Spotify, and I can’t help but agree that that’s the fairest way around it.
People are missing out. I know if I heard the album in full and I liked it enough, I’d go out and buy it. I’m sure my friend would too, and he’s a Spotify Premium user who pays a monthy fee to access music. True music fans will pay for what they feel is worth paying for, for the hard work and creativity they put into their ‘art’ but by denying people a chance to listen to her music legally, the truth is Taylor Swift is inviting people to do so illegally.
It’s so very easy to illegally download music so Taylor shouldn’t really piss her fans and Spotify off by denying them. I know All Too Well* that Spotify might not bring in as much money, but more people will listen to her music, she’ll gain more fans as a result and ultimately as Spotify is legal, she’d be a damn sight better off than if people illegally downloaded her stuff, which I might have to do if she doesn’t book her ideas up.
I’m on her side to some extent but Everything Has Changed* in the music industry in recent years and if I had to pay for every song, sorry, three minute pieces of art I’ve ever enjoyed there’d be a considerably large Blank Space* in my music collection. So if the ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ singer could retract that statement this once and become BFFs with Spotify again that would be quite nice thank you.
Let’s add a poll.
*These are really poor puns based on Taylor Swift song titles.