Taylor Swift recently pulled all of her music, including her new album, 1989, the only album to go platinum this year, from Spotify, adding the music streaming service to the long list of breakups the country-turned-pop star has become famous for.It seemed like a righteous move at first—depriving Spotify of her #1 album in solidarity with her fellow artists, and costing herself $6 million in the process. She said of the move: “…everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment. And 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.” A bold stance on the integrity and the value of artistic works by a wildly successful celebrity.
But Billy Bragg is calling bullshit.The outspoken British folk icon wrote a Facebook post today, dismissing Swift’s move as “nothing more than a corporate power play,” citing Swift’s move towards Google’s recently launched Music Key as the true motivator. “Google are going after Spotify and Taylor Swift has just chosen sides. That’s her prerogative as a savvy businesswoman – but please don’t try to sell this corporate power play to us as some sort of altruistic gesture in solidarity with struggling music makers,” he said.Read his full post below which will lead 1.3 million Tay Tay fans waiting on line to buy a pumpkin spice UGG boot to pull out their iPhones and search for “who the fuck is billy bragg,” ironically enough, on Google:What a shame that Taylor Swift’s principled stand against those who would give her music away for free has turned out to be nothing more than a corporate power play. On pulling her music from Spotify recently, she made a big issue of the fact that the majority of the streaming service’s users listen to her tracks for nothing rather than signing up to the subscription service.“I don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free” she said in a statement to Yahoo last week.These worthy sentiments have been somewhat undermined by Swift making her new album and back catalogue available on Google’s new Music Key streaming service…..which also offers listeners a free service alongside a premium subscription tier.
Given that this year is the first to fail to produce a new million selling album, I can understand Taylor Swift wanting to maximise her opportunities with the new record – and it worked: she shifted 1.28m copies of 1989 in the first week of sale.But she should just be honest with her fans and say “sorry, but Sergey Brin gave me a huge amount of money to be the headline name on the marquee for the launch of You Tube Music Key and so I’ve sold my soul to Google”.If Ms Swift was truly concerned about perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free, she should be removing her material from You Tube, not cosying up to it. The de facto biggest streaming service in the world, with all the content available free, You Tube is the greatest threat to any commercially based streaming service.You might ask yourself why Google are setting up a commercial streaming service that will ultimately have to compete with their own You Tube behemoth? My hunch is that they are following a ‘Starbucks strategy’: it doesn’t matter if your own coffee shops on every corner are competing with one another, so long as they ultimately put all of your rivals out of business.Google are going after Spotify and Taylor Swift has just chosen sides. That’s her prerogative as a savvy businesswoman – but please don’t try to sell this corporate power play to us as some sort of altruistic gesture in solidarity with struggling music makers.