Fans upset as Taylor Swift pulls music from Spotify
Pop artist of the moment Taylor Swift, who has just announced a World Tour, in which she snubs New Zealand next year, has abruptly removed her entire music catalogue from online streaming service Spotify without explanation. That's right – all her music.
Doing so has left holes in 19 million fans' playlists, according to the music service.
Swift and her record label have yet to offer a reason for the move but the Shake it Off singer has in the past withheld some of her new music from services such as Spotify, possibly to help drive sales before making it more widely available.
Swift's latest album release 1989, which sits at No.1 in the United States and Australia, is on track to become one of the biggest-selling albums ever released by a female artist. One industry source told Rolling Stone that Swift's label Big Machine – a prominent country music label – is potentially up for sale and its founder Scott Borchetta decided to remove the tracks from streaming services to try to "get a pop on their sales" and maximise the company's value.
"It came completely out of the blue," the source told Rolling Stone.
An industry source gave Billboard a similar explanation: "Big Machine [is] ostensibly taking advantage of a new scarcity to drive up its sale price," wrote Billboard's Andrew Flanagan.
Swift, whose "daggy-dancing" and wholesome image is winning over the public worldwide at a time that rival pop artists seem more sexualised than ever, recently wrote a comment piece in the Wall Street Journal that included her thoughts on the state of the music industry. In it she was interpreted to have criticised streaming services, which have been criticised for paying artists poorly.
In a blog post message, Spotify begged Swift to reconsider the decision.
"We love Taylor Swift, and our more than 40 million users love her even more – nearly 16 million of them have played her songs in the past 30 days, and she's on over 19 million playlists.
"We hope she'll change her mind and join us in building a new music economy that works for everyone. We believe fans should be able to listen to music wherever and whenever they want, and that artists have an absolute right to be paid for their work and protected from piracy. That's why we pay nearly 70 per cent of our revenue back to the music community."
Although the move by Big Machine (undeniably with Swift's approval) is out of step with the vast majority she is by no means the only major artist not on the streaming service. Music by AC/DC, The Beatles and Garth Brooks (who uses his own service GhostTunes) is not on Spotify. Bob Seger has only one song and The Black Keys' last two albums are not on the service.
Black Keys' Patrick Carney said of Spotify's Swedish owner: "He's richer than Paul McCartney and he's 30 and he's never written a song." (Ek is now 31.) Radiohead's Thom Yorke has also blasted the service in recent times.
Swift's music has also disappeared from Rdio and other music streaming services, although one service, Rhapsody, apparently still has all Swift's music – with the exception of the new album. Swift's music is also still available on iTunes and Google Play.
The news has not gone down well with Swift fans, who say the artist has let them down.
"Hey Taylor Swift the haters gonna hate, hate, hate but 40 million + Spotifiers gonna play, play play. Don't let them down for too long. XO," Jonathan Prince wrote on Twitter.
Swift has not responded on Twitter to pleas from fans to return to Spotify.
Swift will play in Australia next December, although she has not said when exactly. The tour begins in Louisiana in May 2015 and takes in North America, before Europe and it will end in Australia in December 2015, where she will most likely celebrate her 26th birthday. So far there has been no mention of dates in New Zealand.
The singer and bestie of Lorde last performed in New Zealand in last November selling out three nights at Auckland's Vector Arena.
Australia's Vance Joy has been picked to support Swift on tour, including the North American dates. Swift memorably covered his Hottest 100-winning hit Riptide in London recently.
Dear @taylorswift13, my kids & I love your music and listen often. Please come back to @Spotify; I'm not switching my habits for 1 artist. — Lee C. Milstein (@LCMilstein) November 3, 2014
All I want is world peace and for the @taylorswift13 album to be on Spotify. — Star Spangled Chic (@StarSpangleChic) November 2, 2014
.@taylorswift13 I pay 25% of my daily salary to @Spotify please give them your new album so I can listen to it thank you — torin (@humantrashbag) October 30, 2014
Wouldn't it be great if Taylor Swift said "I'll put all my songs back on Spotify if they raise the rates by xx% for all artists." — Eric Harvey (@marathonpacks) November 3, 2014
Listening to @taylorswift13 on @youtube @vevo for "FREE" while unavailable on @spotify where we pay $9.99 http://t.co/fkdqO9TQRc — Rich Greenfield (@RichBTIG) November 3, 2014
Taylor Swift has pulled her catalog from Spotify. But is this a bid for higher rates for all, or just preferential treatment? — Future of Music (@future_of_music) November 3, 2014
So yeah, #The1989WorldTour is happening!! Go to http://t.co/0QsMufjnee for details. I CANNOT WAIT! http://t.co/FS8NverUuW — Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 3, 2014