Taylor Swift's Departure From Spotify Hailed by Songwriters

Posted on November 12, 2014

Cover of Taylor Swift's album 1989

Award-winning singer songwriter Taylor Swift made headlines when she pulled her music from Spotify just before her new album 1989 was released. The CEO of Spotify was so upset about Taylor pulling her music that he has been haranguing her in the press, saying she could make $6 million in royalties this year if she would only come back.

But Taylor, like many songwriters, is not happy with the way Spotify and other streaming services play royalties to writers. The streaming services charge users a monthly fee to be able to play any song as many times as they like. The services promised songwriters they would make lots of money. That has not happened, and the writers are disgusted. Spotify has 50 million users. They either pay $9.95 a month for unlimited streaming or they listen for free and hear advertisements.

CNN reports that musicians and songwriters are banding together to create a "fair trade" system for streaming music that would allow fans to her the music they want, but would allow songwriters two make a living wage. CNN spoke to Desmond Child, the songwriter behind many hits, including Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer."

That song was listened to on Pandora by 6.5 million people during a three month period in 2012. But Child and his two co-writers made a grand total of $111 in royalties -- that they had to split three ways. They said it just about covered one pizza apiece. Other songwriters and musicians tell similar stories. For example, Bette Midler is extremely unhappy with Pandora. She says she only received $114 royalties, although her songs were played 4 million times.

Child has teamed up with songwriter Eddie Schwartz (who wrote Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot") to create a new system called "fair trade music." They, and other songwriters, believe listeners should be able to hear the song a certain amount of times under the streaming service, but they need to buy the song for additional plays. Child says songwriters cannot make a living under the current system and things need to change. Having Taylor Swift speak up has really helped the issue, he says.

Photo: Big Machine Records

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