Taylor Swift’s new album ‘Red’ is out this week, but not via streaming services where it won’t, according to Rhapsody, be available for “several months”. This, apparently, is due to the fact the boss of her label Big Machine Media, Scott Borchetta, is distrustful of such things, and even the delayed release is quite a compromise on his part.
Borchetta recently told Billboard: “I personally struggle with that model – and I don’t think that it should be free. We’ve spoken with the services, and spoken with Spotify in particular … We just haven’t hit on the right model that works for us. I don’t have thousands and thousands of albums and hundreds and hundreds of artists, I have a finite artist roster and finite number of releases. If you’re a big battleship like Sony or Universal and have tens of thousands of masters, that income stream makes sense at a big corporation. It doesn’t make sense to a small record company”.
Speaking to Rolling Stone about his compromise position, ie making some content available to the streaming platforms, but not new releases, he added “We’re not putting the brand new releases on Spotify. Why shouldn’t we learn from the movie business? They have theatrical releases, cable releases. There are certain tiers. If we just throw out everything we have, we’re done”.
Yeah, imagine if people were able to listen to your music when they wanted, what an awful world that would be. Though, of course, Taylor Swift’s album is freely available via user-upload streaming services like YouTube and Grooveshark (takedown notices permitting), and the myriad completely unlicensed sharing services online, so anyone who wants the album without visiting iTunes or a CD seller can quite happily go and listen to it right now.
Of course, some people – artists and business folk alike – criticise streaming services with any freemium components on the basis such things “devalue music”. Presumably that’s not an argument Borchetta’s going with though, as he’s apparently quite happy for people to buy the new Taylor Swift album as a sundry item when ordering a pizza. Yes indeed, US residents buying a pizza from Papa John’s can currently add a CD copy of ‘Red’ to their order for just $13. Seriously.
Calling Big Machine’s policy on streaming short sighted, Rhapsody’s Senior Director Of Content Programming Garrett Kamps wrote in a blog post: “We believe the cumulative impact of [repeated streams] over [a number of] years will outweigh and outlast the impact of a single download. We believe that the model of access over ownership provides a level of convenience and accessibility that facilitates an unprecedented degree of music discovery – encouraging you to experience artists and genres you’d never knew to be so amazing, to engage with music you might never have heard of, let alone actually heard, were it not so effortless to do so. Most of all, we believe that more people listening to more music more frequently is better for everyone. We believe that, we want Taylor and artists like her to believe that, and if there’s anything standing in the way, then we want to figure out a way to get past it”.
Then again, I do really like pizza.
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