I want to start off this letter by saying I was never your biggest fan, however the release of 1989 completely changed that. I do not know if it was your transition from country-pop to full on pop, the song lyrics being more relatable to me personally, or the new image you have been projecting but it is pretty safe to say I am a converted “Swifty.” In fact, after watching that SNL skit, I am pretty convinced that playing, “Shake It Off” on repeat was what onset the vertigo I was diagnosed with a few months ago. Seriously.
As a new super Taylor fan, I obviously did multiple Google searches about you so I could learn more about what you are all about. During my searches, I couldn’t help but notice multiple articles pop up regarding your stance on Spotify with phrases similar to, “music is art, art has real value, and artists deserve to be paid for it,” continually appearing. I know I’m late to the game here, but I completely agree: if people continue to stream music or download it illegally, I believe the music industry as a whole, not just the artists, will suffer. Even after the launch of iTunes and other similar platforms, the music culture has changed. Gone are the days one buys and listens to entire albums or records. Instead, people can now pick and choose songs from various artists across multiple albums, which I think takes away their appreciation for an album and the story it tells. I am guilty of this, too, though I am trying to change.
Though I do agree with you, I wanted to offer up a different perspective on Spotify, and what positive aspects it does bring to the music industry: access and discovery. Spotify gives access to music for those who may not be able to afford to purchase entire albums, or even a few songs for that matter. Though it can be argued that those who have access to Spotify most likely earn enough to allow them to purchase a song or two that is not always the case. When I first graduated college and was sent out into the world on my own, I had very little money. I was eating “mustard sandwiches” for meals and could only afford groceries because my friends gave me a Trader Joe’s gift card for my birthday. I did still have my computer that I used throughout college at this time, but could not get myself to buy any new music. Spending even $0.69 on a song I may or may not end up listening to at a time when every penny counted seemed like a waste to me. It is a small sum of money, however buying one song can lead to another, to another… and next thing you know you owe your credit card an additional twenty dollars. The point I am trying to make with this anecdote is that you never know what someone’s circumstances may be, or they could have changed. Spotify is a gateway for music lovers who may not have the funds to buy music, or are at least limited in how much music they can buy.
This leads me to the second benefit of Spotify: discovery. I cannot speak for others, but I rarely purchase songs or albums I don’t think I’ll listen to all the time. When I was younger I spent a lot of money on songs I thought I liked, but would end up skipping every time they appeared on my iPod. Almost like testing out a new car, Spotify acts a means for people to test out or listen to new or different music without having to make a full upfront commitment. I have discovered many artists through playlists on Spotify I may have never heard of otherwise, leading me to listen to their full albums and find songs I liked. I was then able to listen to them on repeat to figure out if they were my own personal “one song wonders” or if they were songs I would not skip when they came on at the gym. The difference for me is when I found said songs or artists, I then made the leap of purchasing the songs I truly liked on iTunes. I just like being able to personally own music. If it wasn’t for Spotify, there would be many artists I still would not know of and many songs I would not have purchased. In that regard, though it may seem like Spotify is hinder sales for artists, it may actually be enabling them. At least for some people.
So, Taylor, I am not trying to say your stance on Spotify is wrong, or even that you should put your music back on there. Heck, I don’t even know if you’ll read this letter. I just wanted to let you know that there may be some people out there dying to listen to your music on repeat that are unable to because they can’t pay for it. Or there may be some people out there who are unsure how they feel about some of your songs and don’t want to purchase them. This may seem far-fetched, but there may even be people out there who have not heard of you yet and wouldn’t think to look for your music otherwise.
I, too, worry about the future of the music industry: the landscape has changed and continues to do so. I am not a musician and I do not know the ins and outs of the business as you do, however I do think Spotify, despite its monetary disadvantages for artists, has a lot to give.
I hope this helped offer a different perspective from someone on the outside.