Taylor Swift is basically the biggest musician in the world this week, and that means she's in the rare position of being able to do whatever she wants. Part of that, it appears, is pulling all of her music off of Spotify, likely in an attempt to drive sales of her new album, 1989, as well as her earlier albums. 1989 was never made available on Spotify, but as of today, all of Swift's back catalog has been pulled from the streaming service too. Spotify, naturally, is not thrilled with this development.
'1989' is likely to set some new records
"We hope she’ll change her mind and join us in building a new music economy that works for everyone," Spotify writes in a blog post this morning. "We believe fans should be able to listen to music wherever and whenever they want, and that artists have an absolute right to be paid for their work and protected from piracy."
Swift and her label are in the extremely uncommon position of having the power to pull this off and likely benefit from it. As of November 1st, 1989 was on track to have the biggest first-week album sales since 2002 and set a new record for first-week sales by a female artist (Britney Spears' Oops!… I Did It Again holds the record, set in 2000), according to Billboard. Breaking those records would require 1989 to sell a bit more than 1.3 million copies before today, which it was forecasted to do. Billboard says that the sales figures won't be released until November 5th, but the existing numbers make it clear that Swift is dominating stores right now.
No other album in 2014 has crossed the 1 million sales point, according to a recent report in Forbes, which just underscores how much strength Swift wields at the moment. In fact, Forbes reported that the top three albums of 2014 — Beyoncé, Pure Heroine, and the Frozen soundtrack — were all released in 2013.
Spotify is trying to have some fun with Swift's absence, even putting together a playlist called "What To Play While Taylor’s Away" that's filled with plenty of other pop. Notably, Swift's back catalog remains on other streaming services, including Rhapsody, Rdio, and Beats Music. Those services are significantly smaller than Spotify, though, which limits what impact pulling the catalog might have. Those services still don't have access to 1989.
It's not evident how long Swift or her label plan to keep her albums off of Spotify, but it's easy to imagine that they'll hang tight so long as her sales remain strong. Late last year, Spotify revealed that rights holders get between $0.006 and $0.0084 per play, which is remarkably little compared to the cut they likely get from a single sale of any given song. 1989's dominance provides the unique ability to escape all of that. Like Swift says, "players gonna play, play, play, play, play."