Taylor Swift’s record label has finally explained why the country-turned-pop singer made the decision to pull her entire music catalogue from the Spotify streaming service. During the week of the release of her successful album 1989, Swift took down the single “Shake It Off,” along with all of her other music. Scott Borchetta, president of Swift’s label, Big Machine Label Group, has stated that removing her songs was a “big fist in the air” that he believes other big-name artists will likely follow.
In a radio interview with Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue, Borchetta explained that Swift and her label’s decision was never intended “to embarrass a fan.” He states, “If this fan went and purchased the record, CD, iTunes, wherever, and then their friends go, ‘why did you pay for it? It’s free on Spotify,’ we’re being completely disrespectful to that superfan.” Borchetta added, “They have a very good player. It’s a good service. And they’re going to just have to change their ways on how they do business. If you’re going to do an ad-supported free service, why would anybody pay for the premium service?”
Swift herself expressed similar sentiments in an interview with Yahoo Music when she told them, “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. And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.”
Prior to this week, Taylor Swift had allowed her music to be “windowed” on the streaming service, meaning her albums were allowed to be put up on Spotify several months after they’d been released. The singer is not the first artist to openly disagree with Spotify’s model, as Thom Yorke of Radiohead and David Byrne of the Talking Heads have both expressed that they feel the service is detrimental to new music and the artists who create it. However, pay-to-stream services like Rhapsody and Beats Music still host Swift’s music, reflecting Borchetta’s stance that “[Music] can’t be endless free.” He went on to state, “Give people a 30-day trial, and then make them convert. Music has never been free. It’s always cost something and it’s time to make a stand and this is the time to do it.”
Unlike the original Napster, Spotify is completely legal. Millions of dollars are paid to major record labels in order to license the songs that are streamed through the service. Many fans have argued in Spotify’s defense that it’s more favorable to have fans listen to Swift’s music through an ad-supported service, rather than simply pirate it illegally. Despite these opinions, Taylor Swift’s label president just doesn’t agree, closing the interview by stating, “They take [the music], and they say, ‘We’re going to put it everywhere we want to put it, and we really don’t care about what you want to do. Give us everything that you have and we’re going to do what we want with it.’ And that doesn’t work for us. . . . They just need to be a better partner.”