I didn’t like Taylor Swift until very recently. It wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy her music, but because I wasn’t actively listening to it. She quickly became one of those people I couldn’t avoid, like running into my nemesis on the street (you know who you are), and once I did start listening to her, I found her music to be fun and catchy, for a variety of reasons that people have worded very well elsewhere.
I was also impressed by Swift’s ability to market herself. She really is a marketing genius. When her newest album came out, I bought it, not because I had been waiting to buy it, truthfully, but because buying it was the only way you could listen to it (Edith may have played some role in this—she often listened to Swift in the office, and I stepped into her web). Red was not available on Spotify, which pays musicians very little money for licensed music.
@reportermike WHERE IS IT, I CAN’T FIND IT ON SPOTIFY YET AND I’M DYING
— Matt Langer (@mattlanger) October 23, 2012
In the most recent episode of the Planet Money podcast, Digital Music News editor Paul Resnikoff and a 17-year-old fan explain why Swift doesn’t need Spotify:
Taylor already has so many fans that she doesn’t need to have that, like, incentive, like, oh, listen to this and then you’ll like it and then you’ll buy it. I feel like she’s past that level. People will literally just buy it.
Which was true! Because I bought it, and I would not have bought it if was available on Spotify or if she licensed it to NPR Music’s First Listen. Musicians without the same recognition don’t have this same luxury—they often have to get their name and music out there and in the ears of listeners to discover them, and Spotify is one of the tools they use to do that.
Now that I have it, Logan’s been trying to tell me which song on the album is about which boy Swift dated. Logan says this is also part of Swift’s marketing strategy: It’s a game for fans and celebrity news sites to play by reading the album’s liner notes, and once they figure it out, they immediately write about it which gives Swift even more press. I’ve plugged my ears to all of this. I like her songs better when they’re about love and loss, and not when it’s just a song about Taylor Lautner.