Taylor Swift: ‘Music Should Not Be Free’

Taylor Swift pulled all of her albums from Spotify in November, and the albums still have not returned. Swift said in an interview with Time magazine and a July op-ed she believes music is art and should be treated as such.

“I think there should be an inherent value placed on art,” Swift said. “I didn’t see that happening, perception-wise, when I put my music on Spotify.”

“Music is art, and art is important and rare,” Swift said in an op-ed. “Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free.”

The Business of Music

Angela Schweinitz, a host on Resound Radio and senior broadcasting major, said Swift’s decision was wise.

“It’s a very good decision for her, as an artist, to say, ‘My album is worth enough to take it off of Spotify. I want people to enjoy it as a full product…rather than hitting certain singles for free,’” Schweinitz said.

She said the music industry and other artists appreciate Swift’s stance. However, Schweinitz said that for other artists, who don’t happen to be Taylor Swift, Spotify is a necessary promotional tool.

She said, “If you want to become an artist, you need to be on Spotify. You can’t ask people in today’s world for money when they’re just not willing to pay for music.”

While Spotify said they are paying Taylor a fair wage, her record company, Big Machine Records, disagreed. The Spotify team wrote in a blog post, “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 percent of our revenue back to the music community.”

But the CEO of Swift’s label told Time, “The facts show that the music industry was much better off before Spotify hit these shores.”

Students Weigh In

And Cedarville students hold a variety of opinions on the Taylor Swift/Spotify debate. Some say Swift is making a smart decision, and others say that this absence will hurt her in the long run.

Cedarville senior and avid Taylor Swift fan Alex Heaton says Swift is practicing savvy business.

“I think it makes sense since she was expecting record sales for her new album, and she doesn’t want people waiting to get it for free on Spotify,” Heaton said.

Heaton still went out and bought Taylor’s newest album, “1989,” and was glad to support her music. He said Swift is making a huge statement.

“What her record company did will inspire other companies to do the same,” Heaton said. “Hopefully it will teach Spotify to change their ways.”

Freshman Hayley Christensen said Swift is making the smart choice because Spotify is an alternative to paying for music.

“No one would buy her album if it is on Spotify,” Christensen said. “Since she writes her own songs, she deserves the money and sales of her new album.”

Luke Joy, a freshman, said this move will hurt Swift in the long run, as millions of Spotify fans become uninterested.

“I would listen to her album on Spotify,” he said, “but I wouldn’t actually buy it.”

A Cutting Edge Compromise

But Schweinitz said Spotify is the “perfect storm” of a lot of issues the music industry has faced over past decades. It acts as a compromise between piracy and traditional CD sales. While artists get paid, though only a “pittance,” people can still get music for free. Schweinitz said Spotify’s business model is as cutting edge as consumers could hope to see anytime soon.

Brandon Best is a freshman English major and writer for Cedars. He enjoys writing, life and all the seasons of the year.

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