Could the Taylor Swift publicity be good for Spotify?

RAIN CEO Jennifer Lane assisted with this article. 

spotify twitter logoWhen a global consumer service loses the most popular product in its catalog, it’s pretty bad news on the face of it. The seriousness of Taylor Swift’s much-publicized withdrawal from Spotify is perhaps reflected in the gravity and scope of founder Daniel Ek’s blog response yesterday.

Reverberations have been echoing in the streaming music sphere. Jon Maples, former head of product at Rhapsody, advanced his theory of Swift’s (and her label’s) true motives here on RAIN News, and a good deal of other punditry is taking stabs at explaining hidden motives.

The maddening crowd, always an opinionated mob, is holding forth with substantial defense for Spotify, and its positive place in the music industry. Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest (wholly owned by Spotify), linked out to a Reddit page containing swirling conversation about the fracas. Selected comments that reflect positive crowd publicity for Spotify:

  • “Spotify is helping curb piracy to a large extent. All of my friends who were pirating moved to Spotify.”
  • “If it’s not on Spotify I pirate it.”
  • “I pirated all of my music before Spotify. I haven’t pirated a single piece of music since I got Spotify 4 or so years ago.”
  • “Today, I think I listened to three bands while I was at work with less than 1000 plays. Never would have heard of them without following related artists, never would have given them a chance if it wasn’t already paid for.”
  • “Every band I’ve seen live in the past 2 years I’ve discovered on Spotify.”
  • “I pay more for Spotify every year than I used to spend on CDs and certainly more than I spent on downloads […] the music industry is doing better off me through Spotify than they would otherwise.”

Is all publicity good publicity? A Google News search for “taylor swift spotify” delivers 126,000 results — many of them, today, focusing on two buzzy facts revealed by Daniel Ek in his blog post: Taylor Swift was on track to earn $6-million a year in streaming royalties from Spotify alone, and the music service has paid out $2-billion in artist royalties to date. Those two legitimizing headlines, distributed virally around the world, certainly comprise good publicity against the background of Swift’s rejection.

Even Nielsen Audio is getting into the story (“To Stream Or Not To Stream“), pulling metrics from its Music 360 study to reveal that most music consumers are patient when they can’t find music they want in a streaming platform. Buying the music through traditional retail (Taylor Swift’s rationale for withdrawing from Spotify’s platform) is a minority response in the Nielsen survey:

nielsen music 360 to stream or not

Notwithstanding the serious tone of Ek’s response, Spotify as a Twitter-facing corporation seems to be taking a lighter approach with a playlist love letter:

spotify taylor swift tweet

The playlist is real. (To listen in your browser if you have a Spotify account, click here.) Spotify’s message to Swift is conveyed by reading the song selections consecutively: “Hey / Taylor / We Wanted to Play / Your Amazing / Love Songs / And / They’re Not / Here Right Now / We / Want You Back / With Us / And / So / Do, Do, Do / Your Fans. “And,” by The Telescopes, is used twice. The music is all over the map, and the playlist is more about the encoded message than the tunes.

Brad Hill


  1. How much will they burn these artists in using their songs to make a statement and how many dollars revenue will it generate for Spotify?

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