THE MEMING OF LIFE

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC - SÉAMAS O’REILLY

In the world of pro­fes­sional wrestling, few con­cepts are as long­stand­ing as the heel turn. This, in wrestling lore, is the point at which a pre­vi­ously beloved good guy char­ac­ter (known col­lo­qui­ally as a “Face”) be­comes a bad­die (or a “Heel”). Ex­am­ples of great heel turns in­clude Bret “The Hit­man” Heart swap­ping his soft, good guy per­sona to be­come an Amer­ica-hat­ing Cana­dian su­prem­a­cist, or ba­si­cally the last eight months of Kanye West’s ca­reer.

The op­po­site ef­fect – the face turns – are harder to pull off, but of­ten just as ef­fec­tive and, in 2018, no one has turned face bet­ter than Tay­lor Swift. Just a few months ago, she was adored by fans but car­ried a nag­ging sense among the unini­ti­ated that she was some­thing of a whiny, stuck-up drama queen.

This crit­i­cism, of­ten un­fair and reg­u­larly quite specif­i­cally gen­dered, en­com­passed every­thing from her sup­posed aloof­ness with fans to tongue-in-cheek claims that her squeaky clean, whiter-than-white im­age and po­lit­i­cal fence-sit­ting sug­gested she sup­ported racist white na­tion­al­ism. But per­haps the true crown of thorns came after her beef with pre-2018, pop­u­lar Kanye, when it was al­leged that she’d man­u­fac­tured ou­trage con­cern­ing his lyrics about her.

Fast-for­ward to this week, and Swift has be­come the Robin Hood of in­ter­net stream­ing, by sign­ing a deal with Uni­ver­sal Mu­sic which en­sures all UMG artists will get a proper share in roy­al­ties from tight-fisted in­ter­net Scrooges Spo­tify.

Great for mu­si­cians

“As part of my new con­tract with Uni­ver­sal Mu­sic Group,” Swift wrote on In­sta­gram, the num­ber-one place for news re­lat­ing to the re­mu­ner­a­tion rights for multi­na­tional stream­ing con­cerns, “I asked that any sale of their Spo­tify shares re­sult in a dis­tri­bu­tion of money to their artist, non-re­coupable”. The re­sult is a great deal for Swift – she’s ex­pected to make $200 mil­lion from the con­tract – but the best stream­ing deal in his­tory for mu­si­cians, since her de­mand wasn’t just for her own cat­a­logue but for ev­ery sin­gle artist on that la­bel’s ros­ter.

All of these are now el­i­gi­ble to get more cash from the no­to­ri­ously tight-pock­eted stream­ing gi­ant, which has long been un­der fire for squeez­ing mu­si­cians dry in its mo­nop­o­lis­tic prac­tices. To Swift’s credit, this was not a new stance, as she had pre­vi­ously taken her mu­sic off Spo­tify in protest at its mea­gre pay­outs, but the in­ter­net didn’t no­tice be­cause it was too busy teas­ing Tom Hid­dle­ston for go­ing out with her.

Hot on the heels of her dash­ing the hearts of her more racist fans by com­ing out in sup­port of Ten­nessee Demo­crat Phil Bre­desen in the US midterms, it seems peo­ple were very much back­ing the wrong horse in the Tay­lor v Kanye war (2009-2016). In­ter­net jus­tice may pre­vail in the end, whether it’s swift or not.

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