Taylor Swift isn’t content just making headlines for selling millions of albums, scooping up countless awards, or being friends with feminists like Karlie Kloss, Lena Dunham, and Cara Delevingne. The young musician, who established herself as an international superstar with the release of her first pop album, 1989 last October, has now also become a crusader for artists’ rights.
Swift's first salvo against digital music service providers came in July 2014. The young artist wrote a scathing op-ed in the Wall Street Journal chiding the companies for not compensating musicians enough. Taylor, of course, was referring to popular online music streaming service Spotify, that pays artists only between just $0.006 and $0.0084 per song play.
In late 2014, Swift stepped up her crusade a notch by refusing to give Spotify the right to stream her new album, 1989, and also removing all her previous music from the streaming service. The artist said that despite being one of Spotify's most successful artists, she had been paid less than $50,000 in the past 12 months.
Just as the world was digesting the news, Apple announced the launch of Apple Music. The company also said that the streaming service would be free to all subscribers for a three-month period starting June 30th. While the news was (literally) music to fans' ears, musicians were not thrilled. That's because Apple had made a decision not to pay them for songs streamed by fans during the trial period. This news incensed Swift.
On June 21st, the artist wrote an open letter on her blog. Entitled "To Apple, Love Taylor," it outlined her concern about Apple's payment policy and informed them that she would be withdrawing her album 1989, from the new streaming service. The polite but firm note requested Apple to reconsider their policy and ended with this thought-provoking reminder — "We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation."
Taylor's heartfelt appeal did not fall on deaf ears. The following day, Apple's Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Service, Eddie Cue, sent out a tweet that said " "We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple." The executive went on to confirm that Taylor's letter had caused the company to reconsider their policy and that they would indeed pay the artists even during the free period!
The gracious artist immediately agreed to give them access to 1989, making Apple Music the first streaming service with the album. According to Taylor, “This is simply the first time it’s felt right in my gut to stream my album."
Though Swift will certainly benefit from this change of heart, the young artist who is a millionaire many times over is not taking on these massive corporations for herself. Her goal is to ensure that up, and coming artists, who are in no position to stand up for their rights get fair compensation for their hard work. As the young artist succinctly put it in her 2014 Wall Street Journal op-ed.
"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.”
The seven-time Grammy winner was born in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania but moved to Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 14 to start a music career. Her first self-titled album released in 2006, helped her gain attention as an up-and-coming country star. But it was Fearless, which came out two years later and snagged four Grammy awards that established Swift as a star. Her next two albums Speak Now and Red, released in 2010 and 2012 respectively, reaffirmed her talent and popularity. But it is Swift's latest release,1989, that has transformed her from a country singer to one of the world's leading pop artists.
Aside from her personal and catchy songs, Swift's popularity can be attributed to her genuine love for her fans or "Swifties" as they like to call themselves. In addition to reaching out to them via Tumblr and Twitter, she is known to send them personal gifts and help out those in need. Prior to the release of 1989, Swift hosted several listening parties for her fans at her private homes. Swifties worldwide have responded to the talented artist's affections by purchasing over 40 million albums and escalating the young singer/songwriter into one of the best-selling musicians of all time!