Taylor Swift To Spotify: We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together! Call Me!

I'm no longer in my teens or twenties, but I'm also not deaf, dumb and blind.

So when someone such as I reaches the conclusion that Taylor Swift has all the talent, charisma, and beauty of a rice cake fart, please know that it is based on having SEEN literally thousands of female singers over the years.  As a musician myself, I have spent the better part of my adulthood in any number of nightclubs, bowling alleys, and music halls, watching gals who literally ooze talent and play to standing-room-only audiences continually be ignored by the major labels.

I could never figure out why a label would choose NOT to work with jaw-dropping talent, but then I got to see behind the curtain and realzed very quickly that what current cry-baby rockstar-wannabe record execs want more than anything else in the world is an artist they can MOLD.  And by MOLD I mean take their clothes off.  "Miley, lose the shirt."  Done.

That's why semi-talented artists like Taylor Swift get signed.  She was a 15-year old kid who "wrote her own songs" (something the marketing department could sink their teeth into) and could be marketed as "the real deal" to a superficial tween-skewing New Country audience.

Now, before you try to convince me of Swift's writing prowess, let me just say that I wasn't born yesterday.  When I see the name Max Martin or Ryan Tedder sprinkled among the writing credits, and no less than eleven people credited as producer, on her latest album, the only thing separating this from a Britney Spears record is absolutely nothing.  She's using the same dudes whose names are every other pop record these days.

Why is that?

Because the Taylor Swift that the media machine holds up as some sort of self-propelled force of nature AND a feminist role model is but a mirage.

Having said that, when I see Taylor Swift yank her older albums off of Spotify (her new one was never on it to begin with), I can't help hope this is the real Taylor Swift finally taking a stand against the corporate strange-hold that streaming services have on the artists that provide the very content they exploit.

I'd like to think that when she was working with Imogen Heap (whose co-write appears at the very end of an otherwise assembly-line pop album like a cold glass of water after 42 minutes of forced aural), the British songstress informed The Blond One that all artists, even Ms. Swift, receive only $.007 from each play on Spotify.  Ms Swift, obviously a fan of Heap's and, therefore, eager to emulate her, decided that this was bullshit.

I'd like to think that later that night, as she gazed down upon the cult artists of this world from the top bunk of her sparkly red tour bus, she saw a little bit of herself and decided to take a defiant stand for what was right.  After all, if not now, when?  She won't be the #1 best-selling female artist in the galaxy forever.  Just ask Debbie Gibson.

What is a tad troubling about this whole endeavor is that I can't help approach it from the most jaded way possible in order to get at the heart of why Taylor would do this.  Need I remind you all that Spotify got ALL major labels to agree to their hilariously low payment scale by essentially cutting the labels in on the deal.

To put that another way, that would be like somebody going to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and saying that they'd like to buy the team for pennies on the dollar and, before Jerry can kick them out of his office, they add "We'll give you a piece of our action."  Now, Jerry Jones wouldn't accept that deal, even then, because only a complete yutz would agree to a piece of the action when they already have ALL the action.

That's right, the music industry holds all the cards.  And, by cards, I mean content.  By owning the rights to all the songs that a Spotify or Pandora would play, the music industry itself - the Interscopes and Sonys and Universals - could have started their own streaming service and retained control of ALL the action.

So, why didn't they?

Good question.  The first thing you need to know is how LAZY the music industry is and how resistent to change the dudes with the $4,000 suits can be.  Short answer: Very.

Enter Sean Parker, whose name has a funny way of popping up whenever artists' rights are being stomped on. That's right, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, with his smarmy charisma and a titanium American Express card, the one-time arch enemy of the major label system due to his role as a co-creator of Napster is sent in by Spotify brass to coax the labels into playing ball.

The one guy the RIAA hates more than any other human being on the planet is the guy Spotify sends in to sweet-talk the labels into essentially giving away their content.  Of course, when you realize that he created a HUGE conflict of interest by offering the labels part ownership of the company, they could have sent in Mark David Chapman to do their dealing.

With the labels on-board, Spotify then began experimenting with their payment system and, wouldn't you just know it, they chose a random number that shafts each and every one of the artists behind the 200 million songs available for streaming through their service.  Yeah, funny how it always works out that way.  How is it they never accidentally start out paying artists too much money when they launch these new services?  

You know it's bad when an artist like Taylor Swift yanks her albums because there is no bigger team player than Taylor Swift.  If her label wants her to do a duet with Gordon Ramsey, she'll do the duet with Gordon Ramsey with a big ol' smile on her face.  But even a team player knows when the organization to she has sworn her allegiance has sold her out.

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