Taylor Swift to Spotify: Blank Space or blank check?

Taylor Swift's record label has responded to Spotify's claims about what the streaming service provides to artists in terms of revenue.

Greg Allen/Invision/AP/File
In this Oct. 30, 2014 file photo, Taylor Swift performs on ABC's "Good Morning America" in Times Square in New York. The music streaming service Spotify is no longer offering Taylor Swift songs at her request, setting up a battle between the industry's most popular artist and the leading purveyor of a new music distribution system. Spotify, which pulled Swift's songs on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, said that "we hope she'll change her mind and join us in building a new music economy that works for everyone."

Loving Spotify was like keeping artists in the red.

And losing Spotify wasn't blue.

That's according to those in Taylor Swift's camp who are calling out the music streaming service for paying out much less to artists than it claims.

Swift was paid less than $500,000 in the last year for domestic streaming, Scott Borchetta, CEO of Swift's label Big Machine, told TIME magazine, putting her actual return drastically lower than what Spotify has suggested.

Borchetta's statements came a day after Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in a blog post an artist of Swift's caliber could have expected to receive $6 million over the next year.

A Spotify spokesperson said the service had paid a total of $2 million for Swift’s streaming globally in the past 12 months.

Numbers aside, Swift has made it clear her move to pull her entire catalog from Spotify is a matter of principle.

“These streaming sites pay nano-pennies to musicians,” John Covach, popular music historian director of the Institute for Popular Music at the University of Rochester in New York and popular music historian, told the Monitor.

Anyone who is under the impression that streaming services such as Spotify, which pay royalties to the artists whose music they stream, are the ultimate answer to the conundrum of how to compensate musicians for their recordings, “needs to think again,” he says.

Covach pointed to a recent blog post from a consortium of bands whose music is being streamed in which said they report royalties between $36 and $58 per month.

“The idea that these micro payments are going to build a meaningful model for artists’ compensation is just not realistic,” Covach said, “at least not yet.”

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal this past July, Swift shared her thoughts on the music industry: “Piracy, file sharing, and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically ... Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It's my opinion that music should not be free."

Swift's latest album "1989," released Oct. 27, spent its second week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. More than 1.6 million copies have been sold.

After Swift pulled her work from Spotify shortly after the album's release, the streaming site publically pleaded for her return, urging her to #justsayyes in a social media campaign based on her 2008 hit song “Love Story."

“We hope she'll change her mind and join us in building a new music economy that works for everyone," it said on its website.

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