The spat continues between Taylor Swift and her brawl with Spotify. To fill you in on the fight, it all began when last week Taylor Swift labeled Spotify as an “experiment” and had concerns that it communicates to fans, and music lovers alike, that music should be “free.” As a result, Taylor pulled all of her songs from Spotify.
(Now, First I want to first point out that Spotify is a legal service that pays all of its royalty fees using advertisements. Taylor’s concern is not payment, but the perception of listeners and how that will impact overall album sales.)
After Taylor publicly spoke of her concern, Spotify shot back by saying that she was projected to earn $6 million dollars this year solely through Spotify. Taylor Swift’s label struck back in a Time Magazine article saying that the artist had only received $500,00.00 in Domestic sales over the course of the past year. This comment was a bit misleading as it only paints the picture for domestic sales and doesn’t encompass sales from other countries. Spotify was quick to respond to that accusation with the counter that they had paid her over $2 million dollars in worldwideroyalties; thus painting a much clearer picture of actual earnings.
In the midst of all of these accusations, comes the question of whether Spotify is actually hurting or helping the music scene. While I can understand Taylor’s concern of the public gaining the perception that music should be free, she also needs to realize that the landscape of the music industry has evolved extremely rapidly over recent years since the advent of the internet and digital music.
One of the primary disruptions in the music industry was file-sharing, a problem that is still very real today. I know plenty of people with strong consciences that still download music without blinking an eye. I think Spotify’s intention is to fill the gap that’s been created by file-sharing by still giving consumers access to free on-demand music while still paying all expected royalty fees. This sounds like a win-win situation to me.
One might look at Taylor Swift and ask the question, “$500,000 dollars does seem pretty low for a high-profile artist such as Swift.” However, something that most consumers aren’t aware of, is that album sales have never been the big money-maker for most artists. Artists make the bulk of their money through touring.
For example, Lady Gaga sold 700,000 in album sales on her latest album “Art Pop.” If you use the average cost per album at $10.00 dollars a piece, that put’s gross revenue for that album at roughly $7 million dollars. Comparatively, her “Art Pop” tour brought in $257.1 million dollars. That’s more than 36 times the amount brought in for her album sales. Hopefully, these numbers put things into perspective. If Gaga made $7 million total on her latest album and Taylor Swift was projected to rake in $6 million solely from Spotify, the service is doing a phenomenal job paying artists back.
(Directed at Swift) Unfortunately Taylor, the problem of consumer perception isn’t Spotify, but file sharing. Spotify is a solution to the much bigger problem. You, being one of the few artists that has continued to go platinum in album sales, are in a unique position to take this stance; as interesting a one as it is. One thing I do know is that consumers are fickle and trying to go against the trends of the industry is likely only going to hurt you in the long run.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think Taylor is justified in pulling her music? Or do you think it is going to hurt her overall revenue in the long run? Let us know in the comments below!