Tay­lor Swift re­turns to stream­ing ser­vices

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Showbiz -

ONCE Spo­tify’s most vis­i­ble critic, pop su­per­star Tay­lor Swift (pic) re­cently re­turned her mu­sic to all stream­ing ser­vices as the num­ber of artistes to boy­cott the boom­ing for­mat dwin­dles.

All of the 27-year-old singer’s mu­sic in­clud­ing 1989, her block­buster last al­bum, ap­peared on Spo­tify and other plat­forms on June 9.

Swift’s man­age­ment said the move was meant to mark 1989 hit­ting 10 mil­lion sales world­wide and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion that the teen coun­try mu­sic prodigy turned pop sen­sa­tion had sold 100 mil­lion sin­gles in the United States.

“Tay­lor wants to thank her fans by mak­ing her en­tire back catalogue avail­able to all stream­ing ser­vices,” it said in a state­ment.

When she re­leased 1989 in late 2014, Swift re­fused to put it on Spo­tify, by far the largest stream­ing ser­vice, and yanked her en­tire catalogue off it.

Swift ac­cused Spo­tify of de­valu­ing artistes by es­sen­tially giv­ing mu­sic away for free, point­ing to the plat­form’s ad­ver­tis­ing-backed tier that gives ac­cess to non-sub­scribers.

The feud brought a de­fen­sive re­ac­tion from the Swedish com­pany which ar­gued that it was a rare source of growth in the long-be­lea­guered mu­sic in­dus­try.

Spo­tify says it paid back US$5bil (RM26.96bil) to songs’ copy­right hold­ers as of Septem­ber 2016, the last time it up­dated the fig­ure it had given in re­sponse to Swift.

But much has changed even in the two and a half years since Swift’s row with Spo­tify.

Stream­ing – which of­fers un­lim­ited, on-de­mand mu­sic on­line – has soared, led by a growth in paid sub­scrip­tions.

Stream­ing rev­enue grew world­wide by more than 60% last year alone, ac­cord­ing to the IFPI trade body.

Most other ma­jor Western artistes who re­fused to stream their mu­sic have re­lented, in­clud­ing the es­tates of late pop icon Prince and The Bea­tles, rock leg­end Neil Young and coun­try mu­sic gi­ant Garth Brooks.

But the tim­ing of Swift’s re­turn to stream­ing ser­vices raises eye­brows – her mu­sic went on­line at the ex­act mo­ment that fel­low pop mega-star Katy Perry re­leased her new al­bum Wit­ness.

The two artistes have a barely con­cealed ri­valry. Perry’s lat­est al­bum fea­tures the song Swish Swish in which she boasts of her suc­cess to a ri­val – pre­sum­ably Swift – ac­cused of bad-mouthing her.

Swift’s move could po­ten­tially hurt Perry in closely watched first­week sales. With sig­nif­i­cant over­lap be­tween their fan bases, some lis­ten­ers who would have played Wit­ness on re­peat may spend time ex­plor­ing Swift’s mu­sic on Spo­tify in­stead.

Swift’s de­ci­sion also marks a re­al­i­sa­tion that phys­i­cal sales or paid down­loads of 1989 have passed their peak so long af­ter the re­lease.

The only al­bum to sell bet­ter than 1989 in the past few years has been Bri­tish bal­ladeer Adele’s 25, which she held off stream­ing ser­vices for seven months.

De­spite her hos­til­ity to Spo­tify, Swift al­lowed 1989 to be streamed on Ap­ple Mu­sic from the mo­ment the tech gi­ant launched the ser­vice in June 2015.

Swift had ini­tially threat­ened to boy­cott Ap­ple Mu­sic over not pay­ing artistes for streams by lis­ten­ers on three-month free trial pe­ri­ods. Ap­ple quickly shifted course af­ter Swift’s pub­lic rep­ri­mand.

While the tech be­he­moth’s about-face was mostly seen as proof of Swift’s crush­ing power, some con­spir­acy-minded mu­sic watch­ers al­leged that the en­tire drama had been staged for pub­lic­ity rea­sons.

Artistes who re­main firm against stream­ing their mu­sic in­clude English pro­gres­sive rock pi­o­neers King Crim­son, US heart­land rocker Bob Seger and ex­per­i­men­tal metal band Tool. – AFP

Photo: Reuters

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