, the UK's left-leaning singer/songwriter known for his political music, has publicly called out the 2014's highest selling musician for being a sell out. Taylor Swift
is fucking everywhere man. Look, the kid is perfectly marketable. Tabloids have made mountains out of molehills when it comes to her (thoroughly undramatic) relationships just farming for something that hints at scandal, and she's so damn shiny and cute that the mere suggestion of tarnish is instant click bait (you're not here because you saw Billy Bragg's name in the headline). Taylor threw herself in the line of media fire by pulling her entire catalog off of Spotify with the release of her wildly successful album 1989
, citing that the service doesn't do enough to compensate artists. Yet, as Bragg—whose own point of view actually does cross with Swift's: Spotify is not perfect—points out, after all that, Taylor's entire catalog can be found streaming on Music Key, the new music streaming program from YouTube. Owned by Google. Who allegedly also owns Taylor Swift's soul.
Bragg laid out his disappointment in Swift on Facebook:
What a shame that Taylor Swifts principled stand against those who would give her music away for free has turned out to be nothing more than a corporate power play. On pulling her music from Spotify recently, she made a big issue of the fact that the majority of the streaming services users listen to her tracks for nothing rather than signing up to the subscription service.
I dont agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free she said in a statement to Yahoo last week.
These worthy sentiments have been somewhat undermined by Swift making her new album and back catalogue available on Googles new Music Key streaming service..which also offers listeners a free service alongside a premium subscription tier.
Given that this year is the first to fail to produce a new million selling album, I can understand Taylor Swift wanting to maximise her opportunities with the new record and it worked: she shifted 1.28m copies of 1989 in the first week of sale.
But she should just be honest with her fans and say sorry, but Sergey Brin gave me a huge amount of money to be the headline name on the marquee for the launch of You Tube Music Key and so Ive sold my soul to Google.
If Ms Swift was truly concerned about perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free, she should be removing her material from You Tube, not cosying up to it. The de facto biggest streaming service in the world, with all the content available free, You Tube is the greatest threat to any commercially based streaming service.
You might ask yourself why Google are setting up a commercial streaming service that will ultimately have to compete with their own You Tube behemoth? My hunch is that they are following a Starbucks strategy: it doesnt matter if your own coffee shops on every corner are competing with one another, so long as they ultimately put all of your rivals out of business.
Google are going after Spotify and Taylor Swift has just chosen sides. Thats her prerogative as a savvy businesswoman but please dont try to sell this corporate power play to us as some sort of altruistic gesture in solidarity with struggling music makers.
Shortly after his Facebook hosted Swift critique went up, Swift's team issued a public statement denying any official ties to Google, and Bragg came under fire by fans questioning his ties to Spotify. Swift's spokesperson released a statement to NME: "Taylor Swift has had absolutely no discussion or agreement of any kind with Google's new music streaming service". Music Key, which launched yesterday on an invite only basis, does not currently have public alignments with any artists. The program actually seems to be a move designed to re-structure YouTube more so that it functions more similarly to Spotify, offering it's free content on an ad-supported basis, and ad-free content, as well as offline content and wider access, with a $9.99 monthly subscription.
Bragg, whose Spotify produced "talking playlist" has caused some to question his motives behind defending the streaming service, remains firm in his assessment of Swift's motivations. In an follow up facebook post
Bragg outlines his dissatisfaction with Spotify, and his belief that whether we like it or not streaming is the future of music consumption, and Spotify is making strides in the right direction: "I often find myself defending Spotify - for all their faults, they have set the bar high in terms of transparency and we should be demanding the same from other streaming services."