You may not need the reminder after this weekend, but here it is anyway: Taylor Swift is enormously powerful. So powerful, that she stands as a beacon to remind humanity that we don’t need to cower in front of the seemingly infinite power of the tech companies that try to rule our lives.
She’s one of the few mainstream artists who still reliably sells physical media on a massive scale, and she forced the streaming platforms to play by her rules before agreeing to allow her music to be used. Now, thanks to the release of Red (Taylor’s Version), she has once again indicated to Spotify that she is bigger than it is and bigger than (nearly) anyone else on it is. (In addition to a huge Saturday Night Live showcase last night for the new version of “All Too Well” that everyone’s been talking about.)
Variety says that Swift broke two Spotify records on Friday: One for most-streamed album in a day by a female artist and another for most streams in general for a female artist—Variety doesn’t say if a male artist has had more streams or if Spotify just automatically divides them all up that way for some reason. Swift broke her own record for album streams, with the new Red getting 90.8 million on Friday and Folklore getting only 78.7 million when it launched last year.
This comes seven years—almost to the day—of when Swift pulled her music from Spotify, which wasn’t reversed until years later. Then, when Swift left her first label Big Machine (a move that opened the door for her to reclaim her old albums like Red with these remakes) for Universal Music Group in 2018, she made sure to include a clause in her contract that said UMG would have to pay its artists, rather than itself, if it ever sold off its stake in Spotify.
Basically, at the point when Taylor Swift was more powerful than she had ever been, she made sure to let UMG know that it was now in the Taylor Swift business and not in the “selling Taylor Swift’s music to Spotify” business. Now Red (Taylor’s Version), which she owns in a way that she didn’t with the old Red, is tearing up the charts on Spotify because she allows it to happen and not because she depends on it—though news stories like this probably don’t hurt.