Songwriter and activist Billy Bragg wrote a Facebook post calling Taylor Swift’s decision to remove her music catalog from Spotify “nothing more than a corporate power play.”
The Guardian reports that YouTube now says that Swift’s catalog will be available through Google’s YouTube Music Key, a new Spotify rival.
When making the decision to remove her music from Spotify, Swift cited the value of the art of music and how streaming services do not properly compensate the artists and everyone in the music industry for their work. Bragg, however, claims that she is trying to “sell this corporate power play to us as some sort of altruistic gesture in solidarity with struggling music makers.”
Swift’s spokesperson disputes Bragg’s claims, saying “Taylor Swift has had absolutely no discussion or agreement of any kind with Google’s new music streaming service.”
If Ms Swift was truly concerned about perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free, she should be removing her material from YouTube, not cosying up to it. The de facto biggest streaming service in the world, with all the content available free, YouTube is the greatest threat to any commercially based streaming service.
One thing is for sure – Swift’s 1989, the only platinum-selling album of 2014, will not be available on YouTube Music Key. And when Swift spoke to Time magazine, she expressed that Spotify was a special case in music-streaming programs, compared to Beats Music, Rhapsody and similar paid-premium programs.
On Spotify, they don’t have any settings, or any kind of qualifications for who gets what music. I think that people should feel that there is a value to what musicians have created, and that’s that.
UPDATE: Billy Bragg has now apologized for his statements against Swift. His full apology is below.
I want to apologise to Taylor Swift for accusing her of selling her soul to Google. I have learned that her music will not now be available on the new YouTube Music Key service, which launched this week. This is despite a number of credible sources stating in the last seven days that it would be. My criticism was based on the fact that Swift’s back catalogue was the central feature of a demonstration of the Music Key services given to journalists in London last week… In response to specific questions about Swift’s music, journalists were assured that her back catalogue would be available on the service, including the free tier. Learning that Google were using Swift to promote Music Key gave me the impression that her music was going to be front and centre of their launch, the implication being that her Spotify boycott was a corporate power play, rather than an attempt by an artist to make the point that music has value. I now realise that I was mistaken in this assumption and wish to apologise to Ms Swift for questioning her motives. I would like to add that I will be boycotting the first media outlet to use the headline ‘Bragg makes Swift apology’.