University of California

Commentary: Here’s what you need to know about Taylor Swift’s Spotify return

It was a normal Thursday night, as I came back to my crowded apartment to begin my mountain of studying for my final exams. Needing some inspirational music to power through the mundane content of property law, I opened my Spotify app to see their music recommendations.

I was expecting playlists of deep sleep, focus, and smooth country music to end the night with a peaceful close. You could then imagine my shock when I saw Taylor Swift, in all of her goddess-like form, on my Spotify. Thinking it was a sick joke and the playlist was just full of cover songs, I excitedly opened it, and to my surprise, was her music, streaming live from the convenience of my phone.

Now, you might be wondering why this is a big deal. Streaming music is not a new phenomenon, as apps like Apple Music, Spotify and Pandora have skyrocketed in popularity  in recent years. However, Swift’s return to Spotify is a surprising one, especially because she’s been hell-bent on her opposition against the streaming music movement.

The news was confirmed by Swift’s label on Twitter, as a celebration of “1989” selling over 10 million albums worldwide and the RIAA’s 100 Million Song Certification announcement.

In 2014, Swift voiced her opposition to Spotify by officially pulling her music off the app. In an op-ed from the Wall Street Journal, the “1989” mastermind explained that, “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”

While her decision was criticized by Spotify executives and fans alike, Swift stayed true to her decision. At the 2015 iHeartRadio Music Awards, Scott Borchetta, who discovered Taylor Swift when she was only 14 years old, wore a jacket with the words “Music has value” embroidered on the sleeve. It was clear now more than ever that Swift and Spotify were never, ever, ever getting back together.

spotify iheart radio music awards1 Commentary: Heres what you need to know about Taylor Swifts Spotify return
Scott Borchetta at the 2015 iHeart Radio Music Awards

However, it soon became clear that to Swift, not all streaming services were created equal. Shortly after her bad blood with Spotify, she appeared in a series of commercials to promote Apple Music.  Her iconic “Taylor vs. Treadmill” commercial reached over 19 million views on YouTube alone, and went viral on social media networks.

So what’s the difference? Both have striking comparisons– accessible on smartphones and computers, relatively cheap monthly plans, and streaming services, but according to Swift in an interview with Vanity Fair, “Apple treated me like I was a voice of a creative community that they actually cared about.” This was in reference to an earlier event, where Swift wrote an open letter to Apple criticizing them for not paying artists during the three-month trial period. Quickly (swiftly?), Apple Music responded and changed their policies to pay artists during the trial period.

Given the history of tension between Spotify and Swift, her decision to return to Spotify has a few people scratching their heads. Needless to say, you can bet Swift is busy shaking it off and instead celebrating her landmark achievement of over 10 million purchases of her album.

What do you think of the return of T-Swift to Spotify? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us (@HSInsider)!

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