Taylor Swift’s latest hit, “Shake It Off,” was written as a message encouraging listeners to ignore trend-conscious bullies, but it’s now also the message she has effectively sent to Spotify. Four days after her new album, “1989,” was released, Swift and her Nashville-based label Big Machine Records withdrew all her music from the streaming service.
She joins a growing roster of musicians who have complained about the fractions of a cent that Spotify pays artists each time a consumer streams a song. Jimmy Buffett recently went public asking Spotify founder Daniel Ek for a raise, and other musicians including Beyonce, Coldplay, the Black Keys and Radiohead leader Thom Yorke have chosen to withhold their music from the service.
Swift’s representatives did not respond to The Times’ request for comment.
Historically, Swift’s new albums have not been available on streaming services immediately upon release. Big Machine founder Scott Borchetta has told The Times the revenue model is negligible for independent labels such as Big Machine.
For its part, Spotify posted a statement lobbying Swift and her label to make her music available to the service again, stating, “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 last 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.”
Meanwhile, Swift’s “1989" album is on track to become the fastest-selling album in more than a decade. The latest industry projections put its first-week sales possibly above 1.3 million copies. That would top the first-week figure for her previous album, “Red,” which sold 1.21 million copies upon release in 2012.
In the 14 years since 2000, overall music sales have dropped nearly 50%, and no album released in 2014 has sold more than 1 million copies to date. That makes the numbers “1989" is racking up an anomaly in today’s world.
“Music is art, and art is important and rare,” Swift wrote in an op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal in July. “Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.”
“It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is,” she continued. “I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”