To Spotify or Not to Spotify, That is the Question

Kirti Nath, Staff Writer

The release of Taylor Swift’s new album, 1989, was surrounded by an array of controversy. The singing starlet has recently changed her genre from country to more streamlined pop. This change was met with both good and bad reviews from her most dedicated fans. Yet still many fans are waiting to form opinions because they haven’t listened to a full song off of the album yet. Why? Because Taylor Swift has pulled her music off of Spotify, and in turn out of the ears of all free-music listeners.

High school students love Spotify. That claim goes without much contention. It is a primarily free and legal music sharing website. Listeners can search for almost any song and listen to it endlessly only being interrupted by a few short commercials. But the flip side to this is that this deters many listeners from purchasing music from iTunes, and consequently from paying the artist. According to Rolling Stones, Spotify estimates that per-stream artists are only paid about $.006-.0084. Although music has become more accessible and pervasive, artists no longer feel the true monetary gratification for the popularity of their music.

Taylor Swift took steps to counter what Spotify and other free-music sharing mediums have done to change the music industry. She has not allow Spotify to stream her new album, and she revoked its rights to all of her previously released albums as well. Additionally, her new album is not available through fan-downloaded lyric videos on YouTube. Swift recently told Yahoo, “I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music, and I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.”

This has frustrated many fans, especially those who refuse to buy the entire album that is listed at $12.99 on iTunes. Each individual song of her album costs $1.29. After all, so much music is free, why buy 1989?

Despite all of this, Taylor Swift’s album sales set records. In its first week, the album sold just under 1.3 million copies, topping any other album this decade. In fact, no other album has sold more that 750,000 copies yet this year. Taylor Swift has successfully made her fan-base pay for her music, and she has clearly reaped the benefits.

I believe that artists should be paid for their music. It is easy to view Swift’s decision as selfish. She has so much money already, why can’t she just let us listen to her music? But think about the other artists, the ones that aren’t as popular, or that are just starting out. They need their music to be bought, for their own livelihood. But then again, it’s not that black and white. Where would the music industry be without free-music sharing websites. Would Taylor Swift or other artists be as popular without them?


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