Paying for music shouldn’t be a crime


By Emma Goodwin

After fantasizing about it throughout high school, this August, I signed up for a Spotify Premium account.  

Spotify Student gives subscribers access to all the music on the site for $4.99 per month. This is a discounted version of Spotify Premium which is $9.99 per month. There are no commercials, and I can download any music to my phone so I don’t use data.

It’s just been a few months, but I love it. If I keep it for the rest of my college career, I will have shelled out over $100.

As I sit here feeling that money fleeing out of my wallet, I know the subscription is worth it — or at least it had been until last week, when Taylor Swift removed her entire solo album catalogue from the site.

I like Taylor Swift, but I’m not overly upset about her albums, specifically. Instead, I’m nervous that because she’s removed herself from the site, there’s a precedent for other artists to do so as well. 

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    Swift argues that music is art, and the amount artists make from Spotify is so menial that it perpetuates poor compensation for the art they create (even though Taylor Swift’s net worth was almost 200 million dollars before the release of 1989 — enough to pay my college fees 1,600 times over). A similar line of thought is probably why many singles from 1989 from are removed from YouTube because of copyright laws.

    Despite her insane net worth, I tried to see her point. But, as a broke college student, I only see a few options, besides Spotify, for listening to music for free, or at an affordable price.

    1. YouTube, where we waste our lives away waiting for the ‘Skip Ad’ button (if it ever comes).

    2. Pandora, where I use all of the hour’s skips betting on the chance that the song I want will be next. (Spoiler: It never is.)

    3. Torrenting. “Will this button destroy my laptop?” Or you nervously say, “What if the cops find out,” and apologize to the artist profusely in your head.

    4. The iTunes Store. After previewing a song on the iTunes store, when you finally hear that song on the radio, you’re amazed there’s more to it than the ninety second clip you’ve previewed.

    With the money I’m spending on Spotify, I could buy about eighteen albums until graduation — not including singles.

    I hate the idea of illegally downloading music, but I have a hard time paying around ten dollars for an album when I want new music — especially when I see how much artists make, and outlets such as Spotify let me pay half the price of one album, but let me listen to so much more.

    That’s why Spotify is a great choice: It’s legal, cheap and provides great music.

    But now, our ability to access certain music is changing.

    Despite the fact that Swift’s albums are removed from Spotify, I’m not going to unsubscribe; I’m just going to stop listening to her.

    It’s not personal, and I’m not doing it to make a statement, but her album availability isn’t convenient for how I listen to music.

    The music industry suffers 12.5 billion dollars each year due to piracy — in no way does Taylor profit from this. But she would be making money from Spotify, as she receives money every time someone (premium or free listener) plays one of her songs. Even if it’s not as much money as when people buy the album, she would still be making something.    

    What’s ironic is that illegal downloads are curbed by streaming sites like Spotify. If this is an argument about money, Spotify is a better alternative to millions of people stealing albums.

    Taylor Swift, what do you want me to do? “Shake It Off” and “Bad Blood” are great songs. I can’t deny that. For the same amount of money, I can buy three of your singles on iTunes, or I can listen to any music I want for a month with Spotify.

    There’s no doubt here over which I’ll pick — sorry, but it isn’t 1989.

    Owning music for people on a budget boils down to two very different options.

    There will be people — in T. Swift’s case, millions of people — who will buy the albums. But there will also be millions of people who won’t buy it, yet it will still make its way onto their music library illegally.

    Or, artists can continue (or resume, cough, cough, Taylor) providing us with their music for reasonable costs that are cooperative and understanding of people who are listening to different music nonstop. I live in a world where paying for eighteen albums is too much money, but eighteen albums isn’t enough music for my liking.

    That’s the option I choose. I pay for my music, and that isn’t a bad thing, so stop letting it cause bad blood.

    Emma is a sophomore in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected].