Spotify’s Sad Mix for Taylor Swift: An Analysis

The world of free streaming music was dealt a great blow when country/pop mega-starlet Taylor Swift pulled her entire catalog from streaming giant Spotify two days ago. Clearly heartbroken and beside itself with grief, Spotify responded on their blog: “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.”

It’s all there: the bargaining with the ex-lover, the promises of being better in the future, the using of aforementioned beau’s own lyrics to win them back…well, that last one isn’t really normal for the rest of the world, but you get my point. Sure, Taylor Swift is only one artist, but look at those numbers. Over 40 million users, 16 million of who played her tracks in the last 30 days (the number for the last six years is probably staggering), and 19 million playlists. That’s significant, even for a service with as many artists as Spotify.

Spotify even went old school in their attempts to win back Tay. They made her the modern-day equivalent of a mixtape: a playlist on Spotify. Actually, they made her two playlists! The first is titled “Come Back, Taylor!” which cleverly uses song titles to send Taylor a message that basically says “We’re desperate, please come back to us.” The second playlist, titled “What To Play While Taylor’s Away” seems marketed for the general public, but we all know who they’re talking to.

Now, a mixtape is a serious thing. As John Cusack said in High Fidelity, “Now the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art; many do’s and don’ts. First of all, you’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel; this is a delicate thing.”

Spotify is really shooting the moon with this one. Their 40-song playlist is a tour-de-force of heart-wrenching ballads, love songs, and songs that just beg Taylor to come back. There is no subtlety here. Let’s take a look!

We have the “I Can Change” Songs, because Spotify wants Taylor to know that they can and will do better: “Friends” by Ed Sheeran, “Roar” by Katy Perry, “The Cave” by Mumford and Sons, “If I Could Change Your Mind” by HAIM, “Sweet Persuasion” by Brett Dennen, “Good On You” by Native Run, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson, “If You Want Some” by Joel Crouse. There are also the “We’re Better Together” Songs, because Taylor needs Spotify, and Spotify needs Taylor: “You Belong Here” by Leagues, “Together” by Demi Lovato feat. Jason Derulo, “Unbreakable” by Mickey Guyton, “You Are What You Love” by Kelleigh Bannen, “Love” by Jana Kramer, “Love” by Sugarland, “Storyline” by Hunter Hayes, “Automatic” by Miranda Lambert, “Easy Silence” by the Dixie Chicks.

I was hoping Spotify wouldn’t be petty, but of course they were, with the “You’ll Be Back/Playing the Blame Game” Songs, because Taylor will obviously realize what a mistake she’s made: “Make You Miss Me,” by Sam Hunt, “Open Up Your Eyes” by Tristan Prettyman, “Quit Breaking Up With Me” by Little Big Town, “Don’t Be Cruel” by Elvis, “Love Interruption” by Jack White, “Merry Go ‘Round” by Kacey Musgraves, “Another Is Waiting” by the Avett Brothers, “Slow Me Down” by Sara Evans, “Sure Be Cool If You Did” by Blake Shelton. These next ones are the skywriting/holding up a boombox of the list – the “Straight-up Whining/Insanely Cheesy” Songs: “Can’t Say No” by Dan + Shay, “Still Into You” by Paramore, “All About You” by Hilary Duff, “My Everything” by Ariana Grande, “Song About A Girl” by Eric Paslay, “Stay A Little Longer” by Brothers Osborne, “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum, “I Miss You” by The Henningsens, “Call Me” by St. Paul and the Broken Bones, “Without You” by Holly Williams. Finally, there are the ones that just seem like distractions – the “I Don’t Give a F***/Personal Empowerment” Songs: “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor, “Somethin’ Bad” by Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood.

Oh boy. That’s quite the list. Lots of pop-country; I guess Spotify wanted to remind Taylor of her roots. Was there really no room for “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys? That is easily at the top of any breakup/winning someone back mixtape, hands down.