Taylor Swift is on pace to sell 1.3 million copies of her new record 1989, which, to put it bluntly, is a whole shitload of records. To give you some context, the album is expected to have the largest sales week for any LP since 2002, when Eminem sold 1.322 million copies of The Eminem Show. Some quick math tells us that happened 12 years ago, before the bottom completely fell out of the music industry and everyone learned what Pirate Bay was. It’s also important to note that this is happening in 2014, a year that is yet to deliver a platinum record.
Logic tells us that one of the primary reasons for her success is because in the digital world, 1989 is an iTunes exclusive, unavailable on streaming applications and, in particular, Spotify. Now today, one week after her album release, Swift has gone ahead and pulled the rest of her music from Spotify, which was confirmed to Business Insider this morning. That’s right. This is why those of you who went through a break up this past weekend and just wanted to listen to “Love Story” on repeat on your Monday morning commute, could not.
Even though this sucks for consumers, it makes a bit of sense from the perspective of the huge artists, especially when you’re as stupidly popular as Taylor Swift. The amount of money musicians see from streaming services has always been in question. Spotify says it gives 70 percent of its revenue to labels, which will total just over $1 billion this year, but that’s nothing in comparison to selling actual records, and when you are Taylor Swift and it’s guaranteed people will pay for your music, why not make the most money you can?
It’s also worth noting that Taylor penned an essay in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year in which she went against the grain and wrote about how the future of music “is a love story,” saying “the value of an album is, and will continue to be, based on the amount of heart and soul an artist has bled into a body of work, and the financial value that artists (and their labels) place on their music when it goes out into the marketplace.” Again, this is true when you are the biggest artist in the world and when you release an album it will appeal to everyone from grown men in their late 20s (like me) to 14-year-old girls (like my little cousin Lucy). But if you’re a new band from Chicago and you haven’t been world famous since you were a 16-year-old, your financial gain from an album most likely won’t be much, no matter how much heart and soul you put into it.
Spotify has issued a statement about the situation on their website:
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. 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% of our revenue back to the music community.
PS – Taylor, we were both young when we first saw you, but now there’s more than 40 million of us who want you to stay, stay, stay. It’s a love story, baby, just say, Yes.
They also dropped a playlist called What to Play While Taylor’s Away.
There is no timeline of when Taylor’s music will be back, but hopefully it's sooner rather than later—and when she does come back, it better be with an elegiac dirge about her relationship with Spotify sliding from uneasy truce right into a can full of actual shit.
Eric Sundermann found wonderland and got lost in it. Eric Sundermann is on Twitter.