Martin Schoeller for TIME
Taylor Swift's boycott against Spotify continues, while the CEO of her record label has revealed how much money the company has received for past streams of all of her songs there over the past year. Spoiler: It's less than the sales figures of her new album, 1989.
On Nov. 3, days after she released her anticipated pop record, the 24-year-old Grammy winner's music was pulled off Spotify, a service that offers users both free and paid subscriptions to stream an unlimited number of songs per month. You can listen to 1989 and her past albums online—you just have to pay for it…à la carte.
"Well, they can still listen to my music if they get it on iTunes," Swift, the No. 3 highest-paid female music artist in the word, told Time magazine in a new interview posted on Thursday, when asked why she left Spotify. "I'm always up for trying something. And I tried it and I didn't like the way it felt. I think there should be an inherent value placed on art. I didn't see that happening, perception-wise, when I put my music on Spotify."
Critics of Spotify and other similar music services have for years cited how streaming and file sharing have led to a decrease in sales and how artists, especially lesser-known musicians, often don't make a lot of money through streams, which total less than a penny apiece. Others, including Swift's BFF and fellow pop star and songwriter Ed Sheeran, have talked about how Spotify boosts exposure, which can lead to increased profits through other means, such as touring.
Swift pens most of her own tracks and therefore receives more in royalties from record sales. Swift's first single from 1989, "Shake It Off," was her last song featured on Spotify and was streamed an average of 11.3 million times a week just before all of her tracks were removed.
Meanwhile, there is an ongoing disagreement as to how much money streams of her songs on Spotify has generated.
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek had said that payouts for a popular artist like Swift could "exceed $6 million a year" and also stated, in response to Swift's comments about his company, that she "is absolutely right: music is art, art has real value and artists deserve to be paid for it. "
A Spotify spokesperson told Time that the total payout for the streaming of all of her songs over the past year internationally was $2 million. 1989, currently No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart for the second week, has made more than $1.68 million since its Oct. 27 release, according to Billboard.
Scott Borchetta, CEO of Swift's record label, Big Machine Records, cited domestic figures, telling the magazine that his label received $496,044 over the past year for streams of the singer's music on Spotify by U.S. users.
No one has revealed how much Swift, who was ranked No. 5 on the Spotify's list of most-streamed female artists in 2013, was paid individually.
Borchetta also said his company made more money from streaming her music videos on Vevo. The clip for Swift's latest new single, "Blank Space," has been watched more than 23.9 times on Vevo and more than 24.6 million times on YouTube—both of which also typically pay less than a penny per view.
"Everybody's complaining about how music sales are shrinking, but nobody's changing the way they're doing things," Swift told Time. "They keep running towards streaming, which is, for the most part, what has been shrinking the numbers of paid album sales. With Beats Music and Rhapsody you have to pay for a premium package in order to access my albums. And that places a perception of value on what I've created. On Spotify, they don't have any settings, or any kind of qualifications for who gets what music. I think that people should feel that there is a value to what musicians have created, and that's that."
The singer had had written in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in July that "music should not be free." After her music was pulled from Spotify, she told Yahoo! Music 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."
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