I'll be the first to admit that I didn't like Taylor Swift for a long time. The first time I heard her first album, I was 18, was about to graduate high school, and worked at a pizza place in my small hometown; a coworker, who loved country music, put Taylor's first album on repeat for an entire slow Saturday afternoon. I listened to Taylor Swift sing "Teardrops on My Guitar" about 27 times that day. When, a week later, my best friend Holly asked me if I'd heard this amazing song called "Tim McGraw" by a girl named Taylor Swift, I nearly smacked the CD out of her hands.
I was mostly indifferent through the next few years of Taylor Swift's career. As she got more popular -- and the subjects of her songs were dissected and spread across blogs and Twitter -- I remained vaguely disinterested. Occasionally, she'd get me through an ear worm or two, but I was otherwise bored by her. I mean, was there anything more annoying than "Love Story"?
It was easy to ignore Taylor for a while. She existed on my periphery. I was acutely aware of her, in the same way I'm acutely aware of Selena Gomez and other young starlets. Then, Red came out and things kinda changed. I loved "22" (honestly, who doesn't love that song)... but it wasn't good enough to get me to the buy the album.
At the time of Red, I was deep into fashion blogging and I felt pretty bitter that Taylor was dressing in a way that harkened to "my people" (other fashion bloggers). I felt like our style had been appropriated after her country days. I didn't like it. It was kind of selfish and babyish, but hey, it's true. I didn't like her because she wore twee little dresses and I wore twee little dresses but obviously I did it first.
I went back to ignoring most things Taylor Swift did.
However, a few months ago, when "Shake it Off" came out, I honestly couldn't stop listening to it. We've all probably seen the SNL skit by now, but it really was Taylor Swift vertigo. I found myself unable to not like it. Ok, love it. I loved it. It was an earworm. It was dance-y. It was great for singing in the car on the way to work.
I bought 1989 quietly while home sick from work, but then found myself listening to it nonstop. In the bathtub. Cooking dinner. On the way to Target with my husband. At work. At the gym. Everywhere. Stunned. I'd never listened to a Taylor Swift album on repeat -- not since that fateful day at the pizza place when I was 18.
However, my enthusiasm for 1989 came to a grinding halt yesterday morning when I discovered that Taylor had removed all of her music from Spotify.
Now, Taylor has been pretty down on services like Spotify in the past. She says that, essentially, all art is beautiful and we should pay for all art. Which, okay, sure. I'm all for artists being paid. But, as I tweeted yesterday morning, I think there is a huge difference between a pop star like Taylor Swift and, say, an independent musician. Spotify can be a great service for independent acts, because it can make us aware of music we wouldn't otherwise be able to find. If I really like an album on Spotify, I usually buy it. It's a great way to know if I'll actually like something before I buy it.
1989 is already breaking records. And yet, Taylor Swift worries that a service like Spotify will hurt her record sales. Really, Taylor? Really?
Taylor probably thinks she's sticking up for artists and the music industry -- she's just a good person like that -- but really, she's just hurting her fans and people who would otherwise support her music. Taylor's album is already selling insane numbers, so the idea that a service like Spotify would hurt her album sales is absolutely ludicrous and, to be completely honest, stinks of nothing but greed. We know Taylor isn't a struggling artist; she's already richer than basically everyone I know and have ever met combined.
Mostly, this all reminds me of the reason why I could never get on the Taylor train before "Shake it Off". Something about Taylor is so good, so squeaky clean -- and yet, she's always the victim. In every song, in every interview, it's the mean girl saying something to her. The boy breaks her heart. She's the victim. She's left behind. She's the sad one with the ballad, the broken heart, the past being bullied. Even "Shake It Off" suggests a victimhood and a dismissiveness that is kind of repulsive if you think about it too much. I think you're a good person, Taylor, but no one is that good.
And, once again, I feel like Taylor is trying to paint herself as the victim: big, bad Spotify robbing her of album sales. But really, whose bigger here? Taylor Swift, who has sold millions and millions of albums, or Spotify, a service that charges $5 or $10?
I don't know, Taylor. All I know is: in the span of a month, Taylor Swift managed to convert me to being a big fan... and now, she's kind of lost me.