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Taylor Swift is defending her decision to break up with the popular streaming music service Spotify and as of now, it doesn't look like the two will get back together. Like, ever.
The 24-year-old country-turned-pop star and songwriter's move came soon after she released her anticipated new album, 1989, which has sold more than 1.2 million copies in its first week, and three months after she declared in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that, in her opinion, "music should not be free." The record was also leaked early, which angered many fans.
"If I had streamed the new album, it's impossible to try to speculate what would have happened," Swift told Yahoo! Music in an interview posted on Thursday. "But all I can say is that music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment. And I'm not willing to contribute my life's work to an experiment that I don't feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music. And I just don't agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free."
Spotify offers both paid subscription and free, ad-incorporated services, and has been criticized itself over how much it compensates artists and others involved in the music creation process. According to its website, music rights holders are paid an average of 0.6 cents to 0.84 cents per stream, which can total thousands of dollars for popular artists and songs but often just pennies for lesser-known acts.
"A lot of people were suggesting to me that I try putting new music on Spotify with "Shake It Off," and so I was open-minded about it," she told Yahoo! Music. "I thought, 'I will try this; I'll see how it feels.' It didn't feel right to me. I felt like I was saying to my fans, 'If you create music someday, if you create a painting someday, someone can just walk into a museum, take it off the wall, rip off a corner off it, and it's theirs now and they don't have to pay for it.' I didn't like the perception that it was putting forth. And so I decided to change the way I was doing things."
Swift has withheld new songs from Spotify in the past and is not the first artist to make music unavailable there. Beyoncé's self-titled 2013 album, which has sold more than 2 million copies, and the Black Keys' last two albums, Brothers and Turn Blue, are also absent. Coldplay and Adele have in the past prohibited Spotify from streaming some of their music after releasing new albums.
Swift dropped her first, self-titled album at age 16 in 2006, several years after the shutdown of controversial file-sharing service Napster, a free and popular service that ended up changing the way music is acquired by allowing consumers to download it for free and pick and choose songs rather than buy a whole album. The program was famously condemned by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich and Dr. Dre and sued by the Recording Industry Association of America over piracy. But despite its demise, it paved the way for a slew of copycat programs as well as legal music downloading services, such as Apple's iTunes store.
In an op-ed piece published in The Wall Street Journal in July, Swift had written that "piracy, file sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently."
The financial news outlet cited RIAA figures that show that in 40 percent of consumers got their music through digital downloads, some 35 percent bought CDs and other physical materials and 21 percent got theirs from streaming services in 2013. In 2003, more than 94 percent of music sold was on CDs. Furthermore, over the past decade, music sales have dropped from $15 billion to $7 billion.
"I'd rather be known for a collection of songs that go together and live together and belong together," Swift told Yahoo! Music. "These are essentially installments of my life, two years at a time, and I work really hard to make sure that those installments are good enough to also apply to other people's lives in two-year periods of time. I'm so proud of my fans for going out there, over a million strong, and proving that albums still matter to them and that art is still viable to them," Swift said.