If you’ve been observing the media campaign opposing Taylor Swift’s decision to withdraw from Cult Spotify while having the biggest first week sales of any record in a very long time, hopefully you haven’t been distracted by the bright and shiny object. Taylor Swift has proven the rule that we all knew, but was very unpopular to actually act on:
Spotify needs hits, but hits don’t need Spotify.
Check it out–if you can find the Billboard chart that deals with people who actually sell stuff, you’ll see what happened very plainly.
Everyone from the LA Times to The View has been acting like the invasion of Bob Lefsetz. The breadth and scope of this media concentration leads me to one conclusion: It is being orchestrated.
And who benefits from such a campaign? Spotify.
So think about that for a minute. Imagine if you decided that a certain record store didn’t add value. Or if you didn’t want your record to appear in a cheesy record store chain because you thought it diminished your brand. So you didn’t do the deal and you pulled your record from that store or chain.
And then the store hired a PR flack and attacked you in the press. Would you think we had turned a corner somehow?
I’ve seen these things develop before, and I believe that is exactly what happened. Can I prove it? Not yet. Remember, Spotify is just coming off of a hoped-for charm offensive with meetings in New York, Nashville and Los Angeles that turned into an absolute debacle. And now this?
Here’s the reality behind Spotify. They want you to believe that they are an important part of your life. If you’re a successful artist, they pay you “a lot of money” whatever that is, and they don’t want you to look at the sales they cannibalize. The answer? The access model is inevitable and isn’t getting something better than nothing? Piracy is inevitable, Spotify fights piracy (a dubious proposition) and isn’t getting something better than nothing?
But as I learned from Will Page, who is now at Spotify and was an economist for the PRS, the long tail is a crap business model and digital retailers are in just as much of a hit oriented business as traditional retailers ever were if not more so. And this is the motivation for Spotify to orchestrate an attack on Taylor Swift. I’ll offer the same bet I offered to one journalist who didn’t take the bet. 100,000 tracks account for 90% of the revenue on Spotify. Why is that important?
Because the Hale Boppers at Spotify want the average artist to believe that if they just hold on, things will get better. And when Taylor Swift says I don’t believe in the Hale Bopp, that seriously undermines both the Spotify religion and the revenue. And just like other cults we know of, the Spotify Cult attacks nonbelievers who try to leave.
They have done it in the most condescending, sexist and thoroughly Uberfied broness that is so typical of the Silicon Valley start up mentality. (And in case you bros think you’re special, I recommend Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s Men and Women of the Corporation) Everywhere from Valleywag to The View, the Spotify Cult is shaming Taylor Swift.
Here’s the reality:
1. Spotify needs hits, but hits don’t need Spotify. Obviously.
2. It’s her damn record and she’ll sell it where she wants. Nuff said.
3. She’s not going to get in line.
4. She doesn’t need a man to talk some sense into her.
5. Spotify really needs to can the goo goo. It’s not a good look for you.
6. Taylor Swift has shown that setting up a record properly does not necessarily relate to having the record available in all digital channels simultaneously. Rut ro!
7. It’s not that Taylor Swift wants the freaking money, it’s that Spotify wants the freaking money. After they free ride on Taylor Swift’s brand and marketing campaign. So stow that sanctimony.
And heads up Spotify bros: We’re going to be looking for evidence that you orchestrated this attack on an artist who tried to escape the Cult of Spotify. And God help you if we find it.