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Taylor Swift leaves Spotify, raising questions about how recording artists should be paid

Taylor Swift has removed her latest album
Taylor Swift has removed her latest album "1989" from Spotify, four days after its release, following a string of musicians who feel the company doesn't pay artists enough for streaming their music.
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for TAS

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In a move that has angered fans and created ripples across the music streaming industry, Taylor Swift’s label, Big Machine Records, has pulled all of her music off the streaming service Spotify. Speculation is that the move is to boost sales for her new album, 1989. She is not the first artist to have withheld music from Spotify, other notable artists including Thom Yorke, Beyonce, Coldplay, and the Black Keys.

Whether or not you listen to her music is one thing, but it is hard to deny her rampant success and popularity. Just through Spotify, Taylor Swift’s music has been listened to by almost 16 million people and can be found on more than 19 million playlists - and that’s only in the past 30 days. 1989, is expected to sell over a million copies, a serious achievement when no other album has sold a million records in 2014. But Big Machine's move raises the more interesting question of how music will be recorded and listened to in coming years. Music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Beats Music are growing like crazy.

How can you beat free music with commercials, or unlimited commercial free streams for $10 a month?  iTunes certainly can't and is showing just the kind of decline in sales you'd expect. That raises the question of how recording artists will be paid. If sales continue to drop, can rights fees for streaming possibly pick up the slack?


Casey Rae, Vice President of Policy, Future of Music Coalition, an artists’ advocacy group.

Ashlye Keaton, Attorney specializing in Entertainment Law, based in New Orleans; Keaton represents various Memphis and Motown artists and song catalogs