What do Taylor Swift, Thom Yorke, and Patrick Carney have in common? (Aside from being three of the richest, most famous, most influential musicians in the world, that is?) All of them are keeping their music off Spotify. As Spotify announced in a blog post today, Swift is the latest superstar to pull her catalog from the streaming service. The company noted that nearly 16 million of its 40 million users have streamed one of Swift’s songs in the past 30 days and that she’s part of 19 million Spotify playlists, then tried to win her back:
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.
Swift’s new 1989 was already kept off Spotify for its initial launch, just like Red was in 2012. When the plan to keep 1989 off streaming services was announced, Spotify spokesman Jonathan Prince tweeted this:
Hey @taylorswift13 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 (@jonathanmprince) October 30, 2014
The Guardian speculates that one factor in Swift’s decision to take her music off Spotify could be the potential record-breaking sales for 1989 — it might break Britney Spears’ record for highest first-week sales ever in the US — though it’s unclear how removing Swift’s other music affects 1989’s chart race, particularly since its first-week sales window ended last night at midnight.
The real reason Swift’s music is gone from Spotify probably has to do with some other Swift-related business news. The NY Post recently revealed that Scott Borchetta, owner of Swift’s label home Big Machine, is looking to sell the label for $200 million. Swift is signed to Big Machine for one more album, and her family owns a stake in the label. Billboard cites a source close to the situation who says Big Machine removed Swift’s music from Spotify as a negotiating ploy to make the label more valuable:
This came as a complete surprise. Big Machine is in the process of selling itself, and that can’t be forgotten here. [They’re looking to] increase the multiple for the sale of that company. Scott Borchetta is a very old-school thinker. He’s wrong.
Finally, in news completely unrelated to Spotify, Swift announced a huge 2015 world tour at her website today. Check out those dates here.
UPDATE: As NY Post points out, Swift’s pre-1989 albums are still available on rival services like Rhapsody and Rdio — but only the paid tiers. Rdio’s free, ad-supported service doesn’t have Swift either. You may recall that in a Wall Street Journal editorial this summer Swift wrote, “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. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”