Taylor Swift received a lot of press last week for removing all her songs and albums off Spotify. Initially, the only clue we were given was her famous article this summer in the Wall Street Journal, that cited “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It's my opinion that music should not be free."
"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."
Since then, she has been interviewed with Yahoo Music, who quoted her saying, “"Music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that 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. It didn't feel right to me. I felt like I was saying to my fans, if you create music someday, if you create a painting someday, someone can just walk into a museum, take it off the wall, rip off a corner off it, and it's theirs now and they don't have to pay for it."
When looking at pure numbers, Swift’s opinion makes some sense. Despite Spotify’s claims at that nearly 70% of revenue, or $2 billion dollars, goes directly back to artists in the form of royalties, artists usually receive anywhere from $0.006 to $0.0084 per song. Swift’s record label CEO, Scott Borchetta said that Swift earned $496,044 in one year. In fact, he said his label made from more from the video streaming site Vevo than from Spotify.
Spotify, who has been outspoken on Twitter, had their chief executive, Daniel Ek, sum up their business model, “At our current size, payouts for a top artist like Taylor Swift (before she pulled her catalogue) are on track to exceed $6m a year, and that's only growing - we expect that number to double again in a year. Piracy doesn't pay artists a penny - nothing, zilch, zero.And sure enough, if you looked at the top spot on the Pirate Bay last week, there was 1989”, as quoted by the BBC.
Swift’s newest album, 1989, has topped the charts in the US and UK and has had the largest sales week, over 1.68 million copies, in over a decade. Yet, her label CEO stands his ground and insists there was no way Swift was set to make over x11 increase from the previous year. Time quotes him saying, “The facts show that the music industry was much better off before Spotify hit these shores. Don't forget this is for the most successful artist in music today. What about the rest of the artists out there struggling to make a career? Over the last year, what Spotify has paid is the equivalent of less than 50,000 albums sold”.