So I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan; I have been since I was about 12/13 and I still am. A couple years ago there was a big stir when Taylor Swift took her songs off of Spotify, which is a music streaming site/app/etc. Initially, I was a bit disappointed too. I already owned all her music via physical copy and on my iPod and phone, but I was constantly using Spotify and it was conveniently there. Who wouldn’t want that, right? A free streaming site that lets you listen to virtually any kind of music you want. It sounds like a dream come true. Then Taylor Swift explained why she took this course of action to the Business Insider by saying, “I’m always up for trying something. And I tried it and I didn’t like the way it felt. I think there should be an inherent value placed on art. I didn’t see that happening, perception-wise, when I put my music on Spotify. Everybody’s complaining about how music sales are shrinking, but nobody’s changing the way they’re doing things. They keep running towards streaming, which is, for the most part, what has been shrinking the numbers of paid album sales.” She also decided not to include her newest album 1989 on Apple Music since artists’ don’t receive any payment for the first three month trial (which most users would be using). In her open letter to Apple, she explained, “This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.”
Taylor Swift’s songs can still be found to listen to, illegally without payment, of course. Those who are desperate can find pitch-changed, badly edited versions all over YouTube. As we learned, copyright is used as a form of protection on a work. If someone feels that they and the people involved worked hard on something and deserve the due credit and ability to choose how their work is distributed, I think that is a completely valid choice. What I admire most about her decision not to engage with free streaming or unpaid programs is that it’s helping the newer, struggling artists more in the long run. The music business is tricky and laws about copyright can easily become muddled. Any big artist working toward helping the underdog is headed in the right direction, in my opinion.