Artist Rights Leader: Taylor Swift


By David Lowrey of TheTrichordist.com

After the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, we thought we should start recognizing and praising those who stand up for artist rights.  We will also identify those who oppose artist rights and tell you why we think they are villains.  Not all of these people will be famous and you may not recognize some of their names, but that’s kind of the point.  We also want to emphasize that we’re not comparing anyone to anyone else, we’re just appreciating people for what they do and who they are–on both sides.

When we look back on the last year, there’s probably no one who did more for artist rights than Taylor Swift.  She really did not need to take on these issues, she could easily have sat back and let the money roll in.

And yet she did.  She put her career on the line and challenged the definitive “new boss” digital business–Spotify.  She challenged them in a very straightforward way by simply saying no.  Taylor had a lot to lose, and she went above and beyond to stand up to the “new boss.”

Spotify’s Daniel Ek revealed himself and did his best to play the “Lars card”–he talked down to her and attacked her.  Not as badly as the calculated and well-financed humiliation of Metallica by Napster’s litigation PR team, but a strain of it.  Can you imagine Steve Jobs doing that?  No way.  But that’s OK, we finally got the evidence on who this guy Ek really is and what his company really stands for.  Same old same old.

Taylor also showed that you don’t need YouTube, either–and she turned her team loose to present herself on YouTube the way she wanted, not the way YouTube wanted to force her to be presented.

She challenged The Man 2.0 by simply being who she was and exercising her rights as an artist–the very rights that the “new boss” constantly tries to take away from us.  It’s really simple:  The new boss needs hits, and hits don’t need the new boss.

And Taylor Swift showed us that artists can be strong and classy and successful, all at the same time.  She reminded us that it’s OK to take care of our business the way each of us want.  And she said it in the Wall Street Journal!

"Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for."

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  1. “Taylor also showed that you don’t need YouTube, either”…
    Showed that “you” dont need Youtube? Well she showed SHE’s so big that SHE can do what she want. She havent’ shown what anyone else can do…

  2. Yeah she showed that she didn’t need Youtube but their $4m big ones prove otherwise. Whoever wrote this article was auditioning to be her next boyfriend because the amount of ass-licking and gushing praise is quite nauseating.

  3. Something about this whole war on Spotify doesn’t smell right. If paid streaming is hurting the music business is Netflix hurting the film and TV industries? It’s the same business model right?

  4. AND… I do not see Ms. Swift as and Artist Rights Leader. She does not represent most artists…most artists (most are indie without any kind of corporate backing) find services like Spotify to be VERY helpful. The vast majority of artists will never get any kind of significant radio airplay or TV exposure. Services like Spotify are a way for them to be heard and build an audience.

  5. Lou Lombardi,
    Spotify is not the same business model because A) Netflix doesn’t give away content with a free, unsustainable ad structured version that 4 out of 5 people choose instead of the pay model. It’s a premium-only service where filmmakers and studios actually get compensated something agreeable for licensing their wares.
    And B) Netflix didn’t make direct deals for profit share with studios (what Spotify did with labels) in trade for each back catalog that cut the artists and creators out of any conversation about fair compensation or ability to decline participation.
    This Spotify model isn’t sustainable. Labels are wringing their hands over deals they made with Spotify and unfortunately the small signed artists aren’t getting near the support that monetarily used to allow them to develop into celebrity-level artists. Small artists are giving up. Taking jobs because they have real bills too. Less time for creation. Please remember that Aretha Franklin was a failure her first 5 or 6 years, and there was “evil” label money that kept supporting her development, money that was part of an ecosystem funded by label superstars.
    The idea that all these labels were evil is an easy response, but I think there should be curators and tastemakers, be it your favorite person at the record store that turned you on to something small and barely heard by anybody, or somebody like Irving Azoff or David Geffen.

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