Today Taylor Swift awesomely reminded us she's boss
Ask most music fans who “The Boss” is, and the quick reply will be, “Bruce Springsteen.” Those in the pop know, however, understand there’s a new Boss these days and her name is Taylor Swift. After announcing a world tour Monday, pulling her music from streaming service Spotify on the same day, and having her new album expected to decimate album sale records, Swift is on top of the music world.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Swift’s latest album, “1989,” is set to sell more than 1.3 million copies in its first week on the shelves, marking the first time a female solo artist has ever put up these types of numbers in week one of album sales, and the first time any artist has reached this level of mega-sales-dom since 2002’s “The Eminem Show” sold 1.322 million albums in its first week out.
This becomes even more impressive when put in context with the fact that, as a whole, the music industry has been in steep decline over the past several years, with nary an artist breaking the 1 million sales mark (Lorde and Beyonce were able to parlay their pop gems to platinum status, but not within the first week). Should Swift meet projections, this will be the third consecutive record in which she’s managed to go platinum in her first week.
To make matters more interesting, earlier today, streaming service Spotify announced that Swift has successfully requested they remove her songs from their service. While she’s not the first artist to do so — last December, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke slammed the service, pulling his solo and Atoms for Peace records from the service (and, in a truly Yorke-sian fashion, did so referring to the service as “the desperate fart of a dying corpse”) Swift is the largest, current artist to make such a move.
So why’d she do it?
Swift has been very vocal about how streaming services have spelled the death of album sales. She wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is.”
In what reads like a response letter from a character in one of Swift’s old “jaded-lover-who-wants-you-back” type of songs, Spotify responded to Swift’s decision.
“We love Taylor Swift, and our more than 40 million users love her even more – nearly 16 million of them have played her songs in the last 30 days, and she’s on over 19 million playlists. We hope she’ll change her mind and join us in building a new music economy that works for everyone. We believe fans should be able to listen to music wherever and whenever they want, and that artists have an absolute right to be paid for their work and protected from piracy. That’s why we pay nearly 70% of our revenue back to the music community.”
Spotify even pledged their love adorably via playlist with “a little playlist poetry for Taylor Swift,” embedding a not-so-secret code in each of the song titles.
“Hey,” “Here Right Now,” “We,” “,Want You Back,” “With Us,” “And,” “So,” “Do, Do, Do,” “Your Fans.”
According to website Spotify Artists, Spotify typically pays artists less than one cent per play (between $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream), though even this number has been hotly debated. While for Swift, that amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars, most of that revenue goes to publishers, managers, labels, and other sects of the music industry. While Swift’s airtime would undoubtedly benefit from staying on the service, she’s taking a stand to help leverage smaller artists get their fair pay. Some — myself included — have said that this makes Taylor Swift a warrior in the class war.
“My hope for the future, not just in the music industry, but in every young girl I meet,” Swift continued in her Journal op-ed. “[I]s that they all realize their worth and ask for it.”
So, between getting set to smash record sales, fighting the class war (thought we really will miss your music on Spotify, TSwift!), have we mentioned that she’s Swift will be shake-shake-shaking it off across the globe when she embarks on a more than 50 date world tour in early 2015? Well, she will be. Catch those dates over at her website.
And again, move over Bruce, there’s a new boss.