There’s no story here. And to the degree there is one, it’s not about Swift.
Streaming won, we live in an on demand culture. Furthermore, those at the top of the streaming chart are making beaucoup bucks. And with new chart formulas, it’s the streamers who top the chart, sales are nearly irrelevant. Hell, they’re up in arms in the U.K. over Ed Sheeran’s dominance of the singles chart, he had almost all of the positions! But that’s what happens when truth outs. We need a way to break songs, but we can’t argue that those who’ve already made it dominate the majority of listening.
But not Taylor Swift.
Come on, we already had this debate over a decade ago. Remember when acts wouldn’t go on iTunes? Hell, even Kid Rock woke up, even though his hero, Bob Seger, is still living in the last century. Want to be marginalized in today’s society? Just make yourself unavailable. You need to be everywhere today, never say no, and if you’re LUCKY people will spend their time with you.
Taylor Swift will be over someday. How do I know? BECAUSE EVERYBODY IS OVER SOMEDAY! You don’t want to cripple yourself in the middle of your career. Look at Kesha. Now what? Stay in the game, play out your contract. That’s the rule of the music business, it’s not about justice, it’s about being around long enough to write your own rules. Sorry that’s unfair, but dem’s the rules.
Taylor Swift is living in a bubble. You can’t blame her, she grew up with fame, but she’s got no idea how she’s perceived. She overplayed her hand with that photographed holiday party, she got in online tangles she shouldn’t have, with other, more streetwise performers, and then she went on hiatus.
Bad move. She should have stayed on social media, people would have forgotten the faux pas. But by going silent that’s all we remember. I mean come on, letting Kim and Kanye take you down? As for Katy Perry… Just stand up and apologize, say it was somebody else’s fault, you weren’t aware. Then again, you wrote that song…
She’s got to stop dissing people. That’s a one note game.
Not that Taylor Swift’s career is gonna die tomorrow. Because the whole world is Nashville now. Meaning it’s about songwriters getting their wares on hit records. And with albums history, you’ve got to have the single, that’s what streaming has taught us. So, Taylor gets her choice of the best of the best. And if you think she’s writing these numbers independently, you probably still believe in Santa Claus.
But Swift is not stupid. Which is why she made this move. She realized the marketplace had changed. Two summers ago Apple was not gonna pay for free streaming, for the trial period, today Apple Music has 27 million paying subscribers, only dwarfed by Spotify’s more than 50. It’s where the money is. Sure, Adele triumphed without Spotify, but that was eighteen months ago, and sure, she sold albums, but the singles on “25” were not as successful as those on “21” and some of that has to do with quality, but even more has to do with availability.
You don’t want to be too early.
But you certainly don’t want to be too late.
Taylor Swift realized streaming has won. And she hasn’t even restricted her tunes to paid streaming, which Spotify now allows, she wants to continue to be the biggest star in America, and she can only do this by playing by the new rules.
She realized the game has changed.
P.S. After writing this, but before sending it, I got an email from someone in the demo who wrote:
“But the same night, at the same hour that Perry’s new album drops? She couldn’t wait a week? That seems like a pointed shot. And super petty.”
I think that’s right. I think that’s brilliant insight. This is the kind of thing the internet was built for, the scuttlebutt that will ensue, no matter what the truth. This illustrates Swift has learned no lessons, because the truth is irrelevant, the perception will be she’s still at war with Katy Perry, which is kind of funny for someone who refused to take a stand on the election, if Taylor Swift had come out for Hillary, Clinton would have won, that’s how powerful Swift is. But she abdicated her power all in an effort to further her career, while hurting it in the process. You punch UP, not DOWN! Which is why it worked when Swift attacked Apple but it doesn’t when she attacks Perry. Swift is seen as a truthsayer who composes her own music, her body of work hangs together, Perry is all over the place. But Swift cannot accept her superiority. And when you’re fighting all comers, which seems to be Swift’s M.O., you ultimately lose.