Look, we all know that the music industry in the 21st century is based off of image, there’s no denying that. Every year it seems like there are new Award Shows popping up simply for the purpose of creating ‘tweet’ worthy moments which is admittedly not a bad way to get yourself out there to prospective fans. One has to agree that music acts (they’re acts not musicians okay) like Miley Cyrus, Pharrell, Kanye West and Iggy Azalea wouldn’t be nearly as notorious had they not made a point of being front and center at things like the VMA’s. Celebrity is all about image and image sells itself in the saturated cesspool we call ‘pop music.’
This past week country star turned pop-star Taylor Swift announced that she was pulling her music from streaming service Spotify in response to the growing piracy trend. Not only that she adamantly asserted that ‘music should not be free’ and stated that her work would only be available on pay services such as Rhapsody and Beats Music. Big Machine, Swift’s label made the following statement, “We determined that her fan base is so in on her, let’s pull everything off of Spotify and any other service that doesn’t offer a premium service.” But wait, Spotify does offer a premium service at 9.99/mo and while it isn’t exclusively pay to play, it does serve as a gateway for many an artist to get their stuff out to the public and encourage subsequent purchase. However, Borchetta (Big Machine’s CEO) feels that artists are being taken advantage of by not making their music exclusive to those who are essentially ‘superfans’. I guess the message that Swift and co. are trying to get across is that real fans don’t listen to music for free and if you have been you’re not worthy of their product. This differs grealy from NIN front man Trent Reznor’s views, who in 2007 famously urged fans to steal his albums due to the corporate greed in the music industry. Now, I’m not saying that Reznor and Swift aren’t allowed differences in opinion but only one of them has won an Oscar for their work and kept up consistently with their fans while the other feels her time is best spent twerking for youtube hits.
Therein lies my issue. The music industry hasn’t been about record sales in ages if you pay any attention to the growing trend of listening services such as Pandora and Spotify. Musicians for the most part are more than happy to put on a good show for a few minutes in elaborate costumes just for the sake of trending on the inter webs. Taylor Swift became the 3rd highest paid woman in showbiz last year making $57 million, putting her behind Oprah Winfrey and Britney Spears. Thus I find it hard to believe she’s really suffering from shoddy record sales. Again the message for musicians in past decade has been ‘image, image, image’ and getting your face out there by seeking any attention you can get. Scandals and controversy at the VMA’s only help record sales and only aim to make artists popular via word of mouth. Twerking is this generations guitar on fire, and has been a go-to for many an ‘artist’ who wishes to make a quick buck off their image. Nevermind that this sort of thing degrades the music industry to the brink of prostitution and never mind that millions of young people are now trying to replicate that success by doing the same thing, because at the end of the day sex sells. For years Taylor Swift marketed herself as the plucky every-girl who just wanted to play her guitar and sing about love and teen plight. Fast forward to 2014 where she’s scrapped the guitar act and can now be seen twerking and prancing around in a leotard in the ‘Shake it Off’ music video which sits comfortably at a quarter of a billion views. So what do I think of her decision? I say ‘who the fuck cares’ because when you’re making more money than any working class professional in this country simply by dancing around and singing about boys, I can’t say I feel too sorry for you.
So in the end for those of you heart broken over the fact that Taylor Swift has turned her back on her fans in favor of cash just remember that she wouldn’t be anywhere without your loyalty in the first place.