Taylor Swift v. Spotify

Preface: In an effort to write more often, I will start posting shorter pieces that do not require as much research and forethought as my previous ones. Although I will certainly post longer, more intricate articles, quick reflections will be more common on this blog. If it makes you happy, I suppose you may call it a link-blog type of thing. 

There’s been a ruckus in the music industry these last few years, but its hit full stride this week. Taylor Swift first pulled her latest album, and then all of her music, from the most popular music streaming service in the U.S, Spotify. She doesn’t think Spotify pays enough to musicians. Nor is she convinced music streaming is the answer to declining CD and MP3 sales. Oddly enough, she left her music on other streaming services like Beats Music and Rdio. Now I’m not a Swift fan, so I could not care less, but this is a sign of a disruption waiting to happen in the music business. Here’s a quote I read in the stories today that is worth reposting:

Mozart didn’t sell one fucking copy. (Philip Kaplan on Medium)

Musicians get to do a job they love, which cannot be said for the majority of us. Some even go as far as to say that the music they create is overvalued, while the delivery system is undervalued. I’m not saying I fully agree with Dustin Curtis, but there is surely a grain of truth in that. It is hard to say if the delivery mechanism, Spotify, deserves to keep more royalties than the musician who created the music. I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know things will change. The music industry has been profiting salubriously from CD sales, and then iTunes, but it’s obvious the music streaming business will not be as much so. It can’t afford to. My guess is that musicians will eventually cut out the middleman (the music labels) and deal directly with the delivery mechanism (the streaming services), but that may be too far off in the future. And it’s foolish to think the labels will let artists get away with that so easily. Whatever happens, it is worth pointing out that consumers are getting unprecedented value from streaming services, and the consumer almost always wins.