What We Can All Learn From Taylor Swift's Breakup From Spotify

What We Can All Learn From Taylor Swift's Breakup From Spotify

Yesterday the internet went crazy when it was announced Taylor Swift pulled all of her music from the popular music streaming service Spotify. A lot of speculations and rumors started running around the web on the reasons why it happened. Some said she just wanted to create a buzz, some said she wanted to just increase album sales and some said she just wanted to make a statement. And how this story is even related to the photography world, you ask yourself?  

While this story have nothing to do with photography directly, the idea behind it is something we can all relate to and learn from. When Taylor Swift herself spoke about the issue on WSJ, she pretty much nailed it in one simple sentence - and we as photographers should take it all to heart. 

"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." - Taylor Swift

Now, it doesn't matter if you love Taylor or love her less - go back and read it again, and just change the word "music" to "photography". When she's right she's right. We should all listen to what she has to say - if not as a musician, at least as one of the most successful people in the world. Time to start valuing your own work and never sell yourself short. Starting now. 



Noam Galai's picture

Noam Galai is a Senior Fstoppers Staff Writer and NYC Celebrity / Entertainment photographer. Noam's work appears on publications such as Time Magazine, New York Times, People Magazine, Vogue and Us Weekly on a daily basis.

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Tswift is adorbs!

Love her! Great story

Can't stand her but she's right in this case. People need to value their art so others can.

my music is still on spotify but i thinking to take back whole bunch of tracks +)

Why? Have you been wronged?

Got to appreciate a young artist in any industry standing up for something that is meaningful like this. Not necessarily a fan of her music but big fan of young artists in the spotlight pushing for things like this they believe in. Great post Noam!

This is ridiculous. Music on Spotify is not free. It uses an advertising model similar to radio.

If her music is played on Spotify, the music is paid for in royalties. If it plays on the radio, royalties are paid. There is no difference.

This is just silliness. To relate it to photography, that's like removing your photos from stock sites because they're "art and should be valued."

.007 cents a stream. 100,000 "plays"(not sure how they calculate whats a full "ply") at that rate yeilds $700. 1,000,000 plays=$7000

could you imagine needing to get an image looked at or used 1,000,000 times before you saw anything of substantial amount?

That is about standard for radio as well.

Think about it, when a song plays on the radio, the rate is based on how many listeners the station has at that time (which is also how they charge for ads). Usually the number of listeners is ranked in the thousands or even tens of thousands.

Think of sales of songs: Even if the artist gets the full $0.99 (which they don't), how many listens will that song get over the next year or a liftetime. Now divide that $1 by that.

With streaming services, one listen equals one person listening to the song one time, not tens of thousands people, so .007 cents seems about right to me.

The appropriate analogy in photography would not be to ask how much you get paid per image, but how much you get paid for each time it is viewed. If you are producing stock imagery, the answer is probably quite a bit less than spotify pays in royalties.

I get it. Our photography is art. When we create art, we do art shows and place our art in galleries. People get to view and enjoy our art for free. We hope that someone loves our art enough to buy it for themselves to display in their private home. Same with Spotify. Spotify is a gallery. It plays her music for listeners to enjoy under an agreement with the record label. If we want to play her music at anytime we want to or keep it for our personal collection. We have buy it or pay a premium cost.

Thou she has a right to take her music away. She also agreed to it in the first place. So this move and her statement makes no sense to me. Thou you take her statement alone. Its great advice to take to heart.

The music industry is a bunch of cry babies. They basically want to sell us the same can of spam over and over again. Even when its expired and old. I paint a painting once, I sell it once. If I kept selling copies. It makes it worthless.

Music, they sell the mp3, the CD, the LP, the rights to use in media, the rights to use in radio, the rights to use for online streaming, the rights to play at venues, even the rights to be play for karaoke. Not once, but a million times a million times. And yet she pulls out all her music because Spotify is pushing her music to potential fans and buyers. Good grief.

Cavemen drew art on walls to tell others where to hunt and how survive. Michelangelo made art to bring humanity closure to God. Duchamp made art to question perceptual boundaries. Today, we make art for money. It’s all one big social construct. “Art is the lie that reveals the truth”, the truth is, humans are greedy animals capable of sanctimonious justifications.

Her music still sucks, even if its not on Spotify.

Don't make people pay for music, says Amanda Palmer: Let them.

Let me know how clients react and act when you tell them that about your services as a photographer ;)

Also, be sure to ask Radiohead how well their "Music at your own price" album release went...let's just say, not well.

Is it still art if you create something with money as your primary goal?..
Don't like her music. But I think music is a different art. People pay tons of money for a rare paintings for instance. i don't think she'll find anyone who's willing to pay more than a dollar a song.

What can we learn from Taylor Swift's breakup with Spotify? Nothing. This is an SEO play on fstoppers' part, because they'll be damned if they miss an opportunity on that SEO juice that can be squeezed from having "Taylor Swift" and "Spotify" in the headline when the news broke.

"Music is art, and art is important and rare."

Except that it's not. Art is not rare by any means at all. The world is full of art and over saturated with artists. Replace "music" with "photography"? Give me a break. Good photographers are a dime a dozen.

It is simply a question of commerce. Nothing has intrinsic commercial value. It always comes down to what the person who does not have a given product/service is willing to pay to get it, and what the person who can provide it is willing to accept.

Traditional definition of art: “to create something new or unique which elicits an emotion or new way of looking at something”. Truth is, none of us are artists. We are all designers: visual remixers where ideas, light, intentions and photoshop processes is our media. We are image-jockeys, we splice together multitudes of image fragments and ideas we’ve seen in our lives and recombine them to serve the purposes of our clients or careers. Many of us make a really good living doing that. Be happy you’re good at something, just don’t call it art. Go to the MOMA, that’s art.

Spotfly pays about the same as any other "public" performance medium. So Taylor does not want her music on the radio? Played on MUZAK? Nightclubs? Karaoke? There's more to it than "my music is art" argument. I say she is the puppet in this one. Labels have been crying loudly for years because of iTunes, independent releases, etc. The labels felt they had to bow down to the popularity of the new digital mediums (many Apple) and content demand from users. Store bought music is now just a fraction of music sales. What better person than Taylor who is really popular among the young buying public to have hanging from the puppet strings. Years ago Garth Brooks got suckered into the ban used record/cd movement. Basically, Garth and his label refused to sell their music in stores that also sold used recordings. This is just another "old school" record company ventriloquist act. If Spotfly (they don't) paid less than the other public performance mediums, then she has a point. If Spotfly is lying about her playback statistics...more power to her. However, I do not think that is what's going on.

How the writer of this can draw an inference between a person who's already a GaZillionair looking to now tap another avenue of zillions by claiming something about what music worth... then comparing it to the masses on this forum who read here, who, at best (and in the majority), make partial incomes off their work...as they say, It's a bit of a stretch.

I think that if I was to try and make this point about people paying for me to do a job. I could find examples a little closer to the proverbial mark than Taylor Swift and greed.