Spotify tries to shake it off as Taylor Swift removes all of her music

4 Nov 2014

Taylor Swift performs in London in 2012. Photo by Featureflash via Shutterstock

Taylor Swift, the top-selling artist of 2013 in the US, has removed her entire music catalogue from subscription-based streaming service Spotify after decrying the age of streaming and its impact on the value of music.

Swift’s decision follows an opinion piece she wrote this summer for The Wall Street Journal.

“Music is art, and art is important and rare,” she wrote.

“Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.”

Spotify reportedly received notice of the removal of Swift’s music last Thursday and was “taken completely off guard”.

While it’s bad news for Spotify considering the country-cum-pop star’s massive fan base, losing the meagre royalties from the subscription screaming service isn’t likely to have much of an impact on Swift’s pocket. Billboard ranked Swift as the highest-paid musician of 2013 in the US, with earnings totalling more than US$39m and the bulk of her revenue comes from other, more profitable avenues, such as touring, endorsements, publishing and licensing, and good old-fashioned music sales.

Spotify has more than 40m users and almost 16m of them have played songs by Swift in the last 30 days, while her tracks have been added to more than 19m playlists. That leaves a lot of music fans with a Taylor Swift-shaped hole in their lives – well, at least, on their Spotify profile.

Because, strangely, Swift’s music remains on other streaming services, such as Rdio and Beats Music, as well as on purchase and internet radio platforms, such as iTunes, Pandora and Google Play.

Her latest album, 1989, however, has not been released on any streaming services.

Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate

Spotify, meanwhile, has taken an opportunistic response to Swift’s decision.

The Spotify team published a response in which it expressed hope she would change her mind and rejoin Spotify in “building a new music economy that works for everyone”.

This lament was coupled with a playlist titled What to Play While Taylor’s Away, emphasising the platform’s hope for Taylor’s swift return and pivoting the pitfall as an opportunity for users to discover musical alternatives.

These songs play out like a jilted lover’s plea, with You Belong Here, Still Into You, Make You Miss Me and Don’t Be Cruel among the tracks listed.

But Spotify’s keen desire for Swift’s return is even more explicitly expressed in this example of Playlist Poetry.

All is not lost, either, as select Swift tracks are still available through compilation albums available on Spotify, if you’re that keen.

Taylor Swift image by Featureflash via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.