"Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala - Candids
Musician Taylor Swift attends the "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City.  Mike Coppola—Getty Images

This Is Why Taylor Swift’s Album Isn’t on Spotify

Oct 28, 2014

It feels like Taylor Swift has been everywhere lately—mentoring would-be stars on The Voice, performing “Welcome to New York” atop one of the city’s skyscrapers, joining New York City’s tourism department. One place she’s not, though, is Spotify, one of the world’s most popular streaming services.

Swift’s new pop album, 1989, debuted in stores and on iTunes on Monday, but it’s nowhere to be seen on Spotify or other streaming services like Pandora. The album is widely expected to be the best-selling release of the year, so its absence from the online services is notable.

But it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Swift maintains tight control over how fans access her music. The singer kept her last album, Red, off Spotify when it dropped in 2012. And in a Wall Street Journal op-ed earlier this year, Swift lumped streaming in with file sharing and piracy as reasons that album sales have shrunk dramatically over the last decade and a half.

“It's my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album's price point is,” Swift wrote. “I hope they don't underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”

Digital album sales, which were supposed to be the life raft that saved the flailing music industry after the Napster era, declined nearly 12% in the first half of 2014. Some people like Swift have blamed the decline on streaming services, which jumped 42% in usage during the same period. Artists make considerably less money when a fan listens to a track on Spotify rather than buying a track outright, but the streaming service says that as it achieves scale it will be able to pay artists even more than they’re able to earn selling discrete units.

Other big-name artists have recently followed Swift’s lead. Beyonce’s surprise December album still isn’t available on Spotify, while Coldplay’s 2014 release Ghost Stories arrived on the streaming service four months after the physical version debuted. The Black Keys, who have long opposed Spotify’s model, have also kept their latest LP off the service.

For its part, Spotify says it wants to bring 1989 to its users, and the company did eventually manage to get Red up and streaming. “There are over 40 million music fans on Spotify and Taylor Swift has nearly 2 million active followers on the service who will be disappointed by this decision,” Spotify spokesman Graham James said in an email. “We are working to bring this album to fans on Spotify as soon as possible.”

As consumer habits shift and streaming becomes more popular, artists will likely face more pressure to release their albums online immediately. But with 1989's first-week sales estimated at 900,000 units, it's hard to argue that Swift is behind the times. “Music is art, and art is important and rare,” she wrote in the Journal. “Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.”

PHOTOS: See Taylor Swift Over the Years

2006 CMT Music Awards - Arrivals
Taylor Swift arrives at the 2006 CMT Music Awards at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.John Shearer—WireImage/Getty Images
2006 CMT Music Awards - Arrivals
2007 CMT Music Awards - Red Carpet
42nd Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards - Show
2008 ACM New Artists Party For A Cause
Taylor Swift and Michelle Williams Visit MTV's "TRL" - June 16, 2008
The 42nd Annual CMA Awards - Arrivals
CNN Heroes "An All-Star Tribute" 2008
Saturday Night Live
The Brit Awards 2009 - Arrivals
44th Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards All-Star Jam
Taylor Swift in Concert
2009 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals
The 43rd Annual CMA Awards - Show
The 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards - Show
Taylor Swift drops one of her awards dur
Taylor Swift 13 hours on the 13th. & some songs
Grand Ole Opry 85th Birthday Bash
44th Annual CMA Awards - Show
taylor Swift attends the 'Alexander McQu
2012 MTV Video Music Awards - Show
BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards - Show
BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards - Show
Taylor Swift Switches On Westfield London Christmas Lights
26th Annual ARIA Awards 2012 - Arrivals
26th Annual ARIA Awards 2012 - Show
KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2012 - Night 1 - Show
Taylor Swift At Gillette Stadium
2013 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show - Show
Taylor Swift Lives In Shanghai
2014 American Music Awards - Show
2014 American Music Awards - Roaming Show
The Voice - Season 7
2014 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show - Show
KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2014  Powered by LINE  - Show
Taylor Swift arrives at the 2006 CMT Music Awards at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee
... VIEW MORE

John Shearer—WireImage/Getty Images
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