Megan Williams was eager to listen to Taylor Swift’s new album the week of its release. She kept an anxious eye on Spotify, but it never appeared. Frustrated and unable to wait any longer, the BYU senior broke down and rushed to the store in her Halloween costume to buy the album.
Then all of Swift’s music disappeared from Spotify.
“I’m pretty upset,” Williams said. “I now need to find my iPod and carry yet another device in order to listen to Taylor’s music. The horror.”
Swift pulled nearly all her songs from the music streaming service Spotify Nov. 3. Her decision is the reason for the teardrops on many BYU students’ guitars this week.
“I am a big fan of Spotify,” Williams said. “It eliminates the expense of buying music, because I’m a huge music fan but also a poor college kid.”
Spotify is one of the world’s largest growing sources of music consumption. More than 10 million users pay for the premium service, while 30 million subscribe for free, according to Spotify’s website. The streaming service ranked BYU as the 28th university in plays per student subscriber this year.
Swift has not made a statement since withdrawing her music, but she has criticized free streaming in the past, despite its popularity.
“Music is art, and art is important and rare,” Swift told the Wall Street Journal this year. “Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.”
BYU sophomore and guitarist for local band Woodward Avenue, Dylan Lamb, agrees with Swift. Although Woodward Avenue recently released an EP to Spotify, Lamb said streaming services might do more long-term damage to the music industry.
“When we have whatever music we want at our fingertips, it’s cheapened,” Lamb said. “When you actually own it, it means more, and the artists can feel that appreciation. If they don’t feel that, there’s less incentive to put their heart and soul into it.”
Swift is not the first artist to reject Spotify. The Black Keys, The Beatles and AC/DC all currently withhold some of their music from the service.
Andrew Maxfield, BYU Intro to Music Business teacher, said big stars can get away with this because they have already reached the critical mass.
“Different people have different opinions on Spotify as a tool, based on where they fit in the marketplace,” Maxfield said. “Taylor Swift made an economic decision, saying, ‘I think my brand is strong enough to drive people to pay money.’ That’s not the case for smaller artists.”
Swift’s new album, “1989,” sold nearly 1.3 million copies in its debut week, according to Billboard. That’s the biggest sales week for an album since the 2002 release of “The Eminem Show.”
“I still love Taylor even after paying for her music,” said sophomore Katelyn Strobel, an avid fan of both Swift and Spotify. “Looking at her first week of album sales, the rest of her fans agree with me.”