Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Shake it off, Taytay, shake it off

What happens when artists demand appropriate compensation for their work? They get called greedy and mean.

To be fair, Taylor Swift is a best selling musician with seven Grammys and many other awards under her belt, but even popular entertainers deserve to have their work financially valued in a way that reflects the creative work that went into it. The problem started when Taytay couldn’t come to a fair contract agreement with Spotify, and did not agree to put her new album, 1989, on the popular music streaming service. I admit, I was pissed when I realized that I couldn’t listen to Tay’s new album on the popular music streaming service. Honestly, what am I paying $9.99 a month for if I can’t listen to Shake It Off endlessly?? I guess what I never realized, is that Spotify pays as little as .006 cents per stream, and as the article points out, you’d have to play a song 167 times for an artist to make even $1 (although I mean, let’s be real, at that rate Taylor would make, like, $10 a day from me…).

Swift joins a long line of artists who have chosen not release their albums through many other means before putting it on Spotify. While fans often find this frustrating, it’s important to remember that each artist, regardless of their fame or wealth, has the right to decide when and how their work is consumed. Online sources for free access to these works (whether legal or illegal) strip this right from artists. At the same time, many artists increasingly are choosing to make their music free and easily available.

The important thing to remember, as the article points out, is that  “artists’ rights are workers’ rights. You are not being progressive or radical by denying artists the right to control their own work.”

In current creative practices, artists are experimenting with many ways of making and selling their work. Some of those benefit the consumer, some the artist. But regardless, a big part of working and participating in the arts is permitting artists creative freedom, and that extends to the way they market and sell their work as well.

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4 comments on “Shake it off, Taytay, shake it off

  1. cayleycarroll
    November 11, 2014

    I am in agreement that one should not be labeled “greedy” or “mean” for not wanting to make their music available on Spotify. That is just silly.

    But I think it’s important to note that what Ms. Swift is doing is a luxury. She doesn’t need to put her music on free-streaming sites because she has the name recognition and resources that most musicians don’t have. She doesn’t need to try to reach new fans in every possible outlet; she has a sturdy enough fan base right now that she will be able sell out her concerts if she didn’t advertise at all.The lady is very well off (I read somewhere that she is worth $198.5 million), and people love her. She doesn’t need Spotify to get her name out there the same way much small bands depend on it.

  2. cayleycarroll
    November 11, 2014

    Maybe “luxury” isn’t the right word….What Tay Swift is doing is a sign of prominence.

  3. zeniasimpson
    November 11, 2014

    While it is utterly annoying when artists actually protect their rights to make money on their own work, it seems sad and twisted that people consider something that artists shouldn’t do. Artists have fought with record labels for ages, and in the fine arts, artists rights on the resale of their work and other issues are starting to come to the forefront. Especially with auction season kicking off at the major auction houses, while Rothko’s make $158 million off of one piece, it’s insane to think how the artists (or their estates) essentially make no money off of this. I think everyone needs to look at artists as humans and not just these machines who make cool things we want for as little as possible.

    As I right this, I’m definitely doing sketchy downloads and conversions for new music, I guess there’s a long way to go.

  4. emkais
    November 12, 2014

    I, too, am a Taylor Swift fan girl. Big. Time. Throughout her 1989 release I have been in utter fascination to behold the marketing genius that is Taylor Swift and her people. I also cannot help to notice how perfectly positioned she is to pull her music and stand her ground at this exact moment. And snaps to her for putting herself in this spot. It takes one domino to start the reaction. I’m curious to know how much a product in a similar but different arena makes—a movie on Netflix? Or a show on Hulu. All of these streams are creative products, and it’s interesting to me to think about the semantics of art/artist that we discussed this week and how frequently those words get convoluted. Just because it’s Taylor Swift and she has mountains of money already it doesn’t mean that she should get shortchanged on her creative product. Same for any other artist on any other level. Words have value and value is your worth.

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