Whether you’re a fan of her music or not the chances that you haven’t heard of Taylor Swift’s new album are next to none.
The release of the pop princess’ fourth album, 1989 comes along with a flurry of record breaking buzz and innovative press movements. As well as this her management have instilled a CIA – esque security plan to ensure all illicit versions of the album online are wiped out. Some may call this behaviour a little excessive but with a platinum album under her belt mere weeks after its release, I don’t think Taylor is too concerned about being overzealous. In the wake of this success Taylor has withdrawn all of her prior albums from music streaming platform, Spotify. This drastic decision coincides with an interview the starlet did with The Wall Street Journal editorial this summer where she stated: “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. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”
Swift’s new radical mind – set may do wonders for her bank balance but could inadvertently be hurting the very fan base she claims to worship. At €12.99 a pop, Taylor’s latest record isn’t exactly a steal for her target demographic. This begs the question of what is more important, her music as a commodity, or if it reaches its intended audience? Sites such as Spotify are renowned by music lovers as a quick and easy outlet to stream high quality music, free of charge. The aim of these sites is to spread music and its message without barriers and stigma, by removing her content from the site Taylor is minimizing her fan base to an elite few who can afford the luxury.
While Taylor’s mode of distribution seems to be earning her a record breaking sum, it is not an archetype from which the industry should take note. Taylor is renowned worldwide and can get away with these ‘innovative’ tactics but these very sites she has shunned act as necessary platforms for newer, less established artists. They also act as a bridge between artist and fan, accommodating those who may not be able to afford to invest in albums. This press movement shows the very commercialism of the industry and begs the age – old question of whether an album’s worth is based on the figure it earns or the souls it reaches.
By Rebecca Fisher