Leaving aside your subjective opinions of Taylor Swift’s music, and ignoring conversations surrounding the current state of the music industry, a couple of recent events have lead me to ask the question; just how much power does this give Taylor Swift?
The first event came upon the release of her current album when Swift announced she would no longer be doing business with Spotify. Citing insufficient royalty returns, her entire back catalogue was promptly removed.
But what effect, if any did this have? Well to date, no other artists have announced that they would follow suit. And according to digital music news, Spotify premium subscriptions have actually spiked as a consequence of Swift’s announcement! As Digital Music News note, “a wide-scale boycott from the most powerful, influential artists…would cripple Spotify’s service”. But to Spotify, Swift on her own, was merely an inconvenience who does hold enough sway to truly affect the service.
The next is a more localised issue. Over the past few weeks there has been a campaign, using the hashtag #tay4Hottest100, in an attempt to get Swift on Triple J’s Hottest 100 for 2014. Whilst it bewilders me that her fans would want her on the chart of a radio stations that has never played her music, it has seen Swift move to second favourite in betting.
Whilst Triple J never publically comments on Hottest 100 voting, it has caused some media contention, with Noisy suggesting that it could destroy the Hottest 100, and The Guardian calling Swift’s potential exclusion “cultural elitism”.
However, it is now being reported that Triple J may remove Swift from contention because the rules state that the station “reserves the right to remove artists from the list who have benefited from competitions or commercial campaigns that incentivise fans to vote for them.” KFC recently made this worse by Tweeting their endorsement. Although this Tweet seems to have now been removed.
So it seems that Swift herself does not carry much power. But her name is still able to mobilise people. Spotify are laughing at the extra promotion her name gave their service as she wasn’t able to mobilise other artists to follow her lead. But the executives at Triple J would be quite nervous at the results of the current Hottest 100 voting. Does she stay, or do they find a justification to remove her? With a movement of this size and with this much press, I find it unlikely that she won’t get enough votes to poll. So we’ll just have to wait and see how Triple J choose to play this situation. Regardless, it does seem that Taylor Swift is the one artist currently who is able to grab headlines.