Online Streaming: The Future of Music or the Death of Paid Downloads?

Spotify has pulled Taylor Swift’s entire music catalog from its website and streaming services at Ms Swift’s request. Why would the pop music sensation pull her music from the popular streaming website right after the successful release of her latest album, 1989? Business Insider has an intriguing theory – Taylor Swift’s record label (Big Machine Label Group) is trying to pump up its value for a possible sale and wants to limit the album’s streaming to force listeners to buy the CD or download it in iTunes. (And not surprisingly for a skilled artist, entrepreneur, and investor, Ms Swift is a minority shareholder in the record label.) More precisely, the theory goes, the record label execs think they (and Ms Swift) are getting the short end of the bargain on Spotify’s royalty rates to artists and record companies. (Which could explain why we haven’t seen takedowns of the Vevo, YouTube, Pandora, and other streaming versions of Ms Swift’s work – perhaps their royalty rates are more artist friendly?)

What do you think? Whither the CD (or even iTunes album)? Is online streaming the future of music? Does online streaming signal the death knell of paid downloads? Can paid content survive in the free for all world (with ads) of YouTube et al?

My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, is experienced counseling individual, corporate, and nonprofit clients on copyright and IP issues – whether protecting your creative art, defending you against cease and desist letters or IP litigation, or enforcing your IP rights. We work with authors, musicians, artists, photographers, bloggers, songwriters, and others to provide cutting edge, reliable expertise on IP. We can help you answer these questions with confidence and friendly expertise. If we can serve you, your business, or nonprofit organization with your copyright and IP questions, please call (913-707-9220) or email us ( to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

(c) 2014, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.