The Taylor Swift vs. Spotify saga continued Wednesday (Nov. 12) with revelations about royalties the singer generated at the streaming company. Scott Borchetta, head of Swift’s record label, Big Machine, told Time magazine that Swift’s catalog earned less than $500,000 — $496,044 to be exact — in the past 12 months from domestic streaming at Spotify.
That’s a much smaller number than Spotify CEO Daniel Ek suggested in a blog post Monday. In his lengthy defense of Spotify’s business model after Swift pulled her entire catalog from the service, Ek claimed “payouts for a top artist like Taylor Swift (before she pulled her catalog) are on track to exceed $6 million a year” — a global figure — and will probably double in the next year.
Spotify painted a different picture of Swift’s royalties. The company revealed to Time that the singer’s catalog had generated global revenues of $2 million in the last 12 months and about $500,000 in the month prior to her catalog being pulled, covering both her label and publisher.
Swift has employed a windowing tactic in the past, holding back new albums from streaming services to goose album sales. Although Spotify has argued against this practice, Swift doesn’t appear to have been harmed. Her new album, 1989, has sold nearly 1.7 million units in its first two weeks. And her previous album, Red, sold 1.2 million units in its first week back in 2012.
Big Machine is rewarding fans that pay for music. As he explained in a radio interview with Nikki Sixx on Nov. 7, letting people listen to Swift’s music for free would be “completely disrespectful” to fans that paid for her music. So Big Machine draws a line between services that offer free, ad-supported listening and those that offer only paid subscriptions. “Now if you are a premium subscriber to Beats or Rdio or any of the other services that don’t offer just a free-only, then you will find her catalog,” said Borchetta.
Following Swift’s departure, Jason Aldean removed his new album, Old Boots, New Dirt, from Spotify, joining notable artists such as Coldplay and the Black Keys that have delayed the release of new albums to Spotify and other streaming services. In the radio interview, Borchetta claimed more artists would follow. “I’ve had calls from so many other managers and artists. There’s a big fist in the air about this.”