Last week Taylor Swift did something edgy. The singer pulled her newest album 1989 from streaming service Spotify, along with her entire catalogue of "music." At last, a break from the singer making news for all of her boy troubles, and yet this decision is equally, if not more annoying, than hearing about her "life drama."
Swift said in an interview with Yahoo that she sees music streaming as a "grand experiment" and does not want to surrender her life's work to a flawed system that does not give the artists a fair cut on the money.
The singer makes one valid point: Spotify is a flawed system. But it's all downhill from there. The service only pays a fraction of profits of music streamed, and it isn't fair to artists (which I suppose, loosely defined, also describes Taylor.)
But this makes sense when you realize that the majority of Spotify users use the service free. Sure, there is a $10 subscription fee for a "premium use," which is commercial-free and offers full use of the phone app, but most people don't care when they can get it for free.
Artists want to blame Spotify, but they should truly just blame the internet. Before the internet, musical piracy or illegal downloading didn't really exist. Nobody really cared about the dude that made mixtapes for his friends — though he was technically committing piracy.
Spotify, though flawed, is an attempt to get rid of people who download anything and everything completely free — so my question is, why not charge all users to use it? At this point, it has proven its success, and people would eventually adapt to paying for the service.Paying 10 bucks is much better than paying for every album. Then if every user had to subscribe, could this be the start of paying back artists, even just a little?
That being said, with all that digital music has changed, people getting paid for their albums is really a thing of the past anyway. And the digital revolution will continue. Maybe we find a way for artists to make their fair share of money, but in the meantime artists simple make a living off of touring, promotions and other facets. And maybe that should be the focus.
But that's not something the struggling artist doesn't already know. I don't hear any of them bitching about how they don't make enough money from their music. They just tour and promote tirelessly. Maybe if one of them — or possibly a group of them — could make an argument against Spotify, get together to change how the program works, then I'd be interested, I'd care and I'd listen.
But Taylor Swift, with a net worth of $200 million, leads the argument against why I shouldn't be able to stream her awful album for free. And Coldplay, a band that has limited its streaming, has frontman Chris Martin sitting at a net worth of $140 million. To put this all into perspective, Peyton Manning's current net worth is $115 million. The star of the Denver Broncos is making less than both pop acts, but I can assure you he's probably doing just fine. And so are they, with or without album sales. It's hard not to cheer on the Spotify revolution when I think about that.
Caleb Dennis writes "The Scene" for Colorado Daily every Thursday. Follow him: Twitter.com/TheWriterCalebD.