Earlier this week, Billy Bragg had some choice words for Taylor Swift’s decision to pull her catalog from Spotify, calling it “nothing more than a corporate power play” and citing her apparent links to Google’s newly launched Music Key service as the real motivator. After drawing some criticism from people who pointed out some connections between Bragg and Spotify, namely his monthly “talking playlist,” he was quick to clarify his dealings with them in a follow-up post. Now, in a new Facebook post, Bragg apologizes to Swift, or “apologises,” being British and all:
I want to apologise to Taylor Swift for accusing her of selling her soul to Google. I have learned that her music will not now be available on the new YouTube Music Key service, which launched this week. This is despite a number of credible sources stating in the last seven days that it would be – including yesterday’s CMU newsletter.
My criticism was based on the fact that Swift’s back catalogue was the central feature of a demonstration of the Music Key services given to journalists in London last week, as outlined in the article below. In response to specific questions about Swift’s music, journalists were assured that her back catalogue would be available on the service, including the free tier. This fact was reported in the Observer article that I linked to on my first post on this subject.
Learning that Google were using Swift to promote Music Key gave me the impression that her music was going to be front and centre of their launch, the implication being that her Spotify boycott was a corporate power play, rather than an attempt by an artist to make the point that music has value.
I now realise that I was mistaken in this assumption and wish to apologise to Ms Swift for questioning her motives.
The fact that our music is widely available for free on the internet is a problem that all artists struggle with. While so much material is instantly accessible on YouTube, subscription streaming services will always find it a challenge to build enough users to make music viable for artists, who at the moment seem to be at the end of the queue for remuneration.
The time will surely come when content creators have to band together to challenge deals done between rights holders and service providers, details of which are kept from artists and their representatives. If Ms Swift is going to lead that fight for transparency, she will have my full support.
I would like to add that I will be boycotting the first media outlet to use the headline ‘Bragg makes Swift apology’
Wait, so Taylor Swift is still moving her music to Music Key but Google isn’t using her to promote the launch, so that somehow makes it less scumbaggy? She still jumped ship at Spotify for Google, no?
You see what happens when you try to monopolize music, corporations? You pit artist up against artist! Music blogger up against one artist but then up against a different artist later! Your streaming service war is tearing us apart! [cue that scene from 'The Room'] One thing we read loud and clear was that Billy Bragg did not want us to use the headline “Bragg Makes Swift Apology.” We wouldn’t dream of it. Not to BRAGG but we know how to TAYLOR our headlines to our BIL—we’ll shut up now.