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Two days before Taylor Swift is predicted to shatter this year’s first-week sales record, Big Machine Label Group has pulled the star’s catalog from streaming service Spotify, prompting the company to take the unprecedented move of appealing to her (very large, sleeve-mounted) heart, and that of her label.
In a blog post titled “On Taylor Swift’s Decision To Remove Her Music from Spotify,” the company wrote: “We believe fans should be able to listen to music wherever and whenever they want, and that artists have an absolute right to be paid for their work and protected from piracy.”
Spotify also released two playlists asking Swift to return, one titled “Come Back, Taylor!,” and the other called “What to Play While Taylor’s Away.” The titles to the love-song heavy “Come Back, Taylor,” playlist spells out a hidden message to Swift (as noticed by Rolling Stone): “Hey Taylor, we wanted to play your amazing love songs and they’re not here right now. We want you back with us, and so do do do your fans.”
A source with intimate knowledge of the situation tells Billboard that the move was motivated by the Big Machine Label Group’s ongoing negotiations around a sale of the label, with Big Machine ostensibly taking advantage of a new scarcity to drive up its sale price.
“This came as a complete surprise. Big Machine is in the process of selling itself, and that can’t be forgotten here. [They’re looking to] increase the multiple for the sale of that company. Scott Borchetta is a very old-school thinker. He’s wrong.”
News of Big Machine’s rumored sale negotiations came out over the weekend.
Read more Taylor Swift Announces ‘1989’ World Tour
When asked whether the move of posting an appeal risked coming across as desperate, Billboard’s source said, “It’s about our fans and trying to protect their investment in their collections — a lot of playlists got grayed out.” According to their blog post, Swift’s music was on 19 million playlists.
As for whether any other artists had pulled records from the service, the source told Billboard, “I think at one time we had the John Lennon catalog and it went down then went back up.”
At publication time, other Big Machine Label Group artists, such as Florida Georgia Line, were still available on the streaming service.
Big Machine Label Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This story first appeared on billboard.com
Nov. 3, 2:33 p.m. Updated with information about Spotify’s Swift-centric playlists.
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