Last week, Taylor Swift was seen establishing herself as the most powerful 24-year-old in music industry ever. Her latest album is expected to have the largest sales week for any album over the last decade, since Eminem sold over 1.3 million copies of The Eminem Show in its first week. 1989 will also be the first album to sell more than 1 million copies in the United States in 2014 amid declines across the music industry.
However, Taylor Swift also decided to remove her entire back catalogue from Spotify, which is regarded by many as the biggest growing source of music consumption worldwide. The streaming service accounts for over 10 million paying subscribers across 58 countries, on top of the 30 million accessing Spotify for free. Some deemed this Swift’s decision as shortsighted, while others applauded it as a smart way to drive up her album sales.
It is known that Taylor Swift was one of most popular singers on the service, with 1/4 of listeners having streamed her songs, which were present on 19 million playlists. As for the lead single from 1989, Shake It Off, the song went straight to #1 on Spotify. However, her relationship with Spotify has always been rocky – Taylor originally refused to release her album on Spotify two years ago, because she didn’t like the fact that musicians received between just $0.006 and $0.0084 per song play.
Of course, Taylor Swift is not the first musician to refuse to work with Spotify. For example, Thom Yorke has also called for a boycott of the service over the same reasons, removing all his solo projects from the platform. It is also known that The Beatles, AC/DC and The Black Keys are unavailable on Spotify either.
Spotify admitted that it hoped that Taylor Swift would return to the service, saying that about 16 million users have played her tracks over the last month. Spotify revealed it paid about $500 million in royalties to copyright owners back in 2013, and around $1 billion since 2009. It is known that the biggest album on the service normally generates over $400,000 in royalties per month.
In the meantime, for other musicians Spotify is mainly a discovery instrument. It is a new way to consume music and it obviously makes sense. The fact that Taylor Swift had so many subscribers on Spotify shows there was a real audience on the service, so it might be an odd thing to have done for her.