Taylor Swift Writes Op-Ed on the Music Biz: ‘Music Should Not be Free’

Taylor Swift Op Ed The Future
Nicky Loh/TAS/Getty Images

Taylor Swift has taken to the Wall Street Journal to pen an op-ed, discussing the music industry at large and its future from the perspective of one of its most popular songstresses.

In the piece, Swift criticizes musicians who make decisions that promote piracy, file sharing and streaming.

“It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is,” she wrote.

“In my opinion, the value of an album is, and will continue to be, based on the amount of heart and soul an artist has bled into a body of work, and the financial value that artists (and their labels) place on their music when it goes out into the marketplace,” she also commented.

She relates the idea of purchasing albums and appreciating artists to relationships, saying that many music listeners still buy albums and develop a bond between themselves and the creators who play music for them. By bringing a “surprise” to her music and her shows, such as guest performers, Swift hopes she can keep audiences on their toes.


The singer also weighed in on the challenges that technology has created, including the reliance of fans on their phones and online presence, but also speaks positively on the expanding abilities of artists within the field of music today. She wrote that she appreciates how great music doesn’t come from just one musical influence and genre distinction is fading.

“In this moment in music, stepping out of your comfort zone is rewarded, and sonic evolution is not only accepted…it is celebrated. The only real risk is being too afraid to take a risk at all.”

Swift admits that she believes there will always be a fixation on musicians’ private lives, and that she hopes she can be someone to relate to for future generations: “I’ll just be sitting back and growing old, watching all of this happen or not happen, all the while trying to maintain a life rooted in this same optimism.”

The op-ed piece is part of The Wall Street Journal’s “The Future of Everything” package, which includes essays on several subjects contributed by popular cultural figures, celebrating the publication’s 125th anniversary on July 8.

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    1. Mitch says:

      I believe that artists should let their music stream for free on the internet. That maximizes the range of audience. Most think that it is crazy. But Google has taught us that things could be given away for free, while money is still being made. I think musicians should release music privately for free, but commercially, charge money. Selling merchandise and tickets are other ways to make money. The sad truth is people will buy an album if they want to support a band as a fan, but otherwise, people will pirate it and not care. Giving away your music for free can possibly make you earn more fans. That’s how Foster the People got on the radar with Pumped Up Kicks.

      That’s my 37 cents worth of opinion, but this is the internet, so it doesn’t matter.

    2. Hairy Arse says:

      Someone needs to tell Swift that ‘labels’ are dead; and her attitudes are already that of an old timer. She made millions by being presented and packaged; which of course explains why her music is terrible (fake.) I know some people like it, but I can’t stand it. Who cares what she says? She was born in a comforter, will never want for anything and has no idea what it’s like to be a hungry artist. So therefore not forced to be creative when it comes to feeding herself. F**K music labels.

    3. Alex says:

      I really don’t care what she says because her music sucks. If you like it, you suck.

    4. Jackie says:

      Not sure what it is, but she always seems like a complete twit.

    5. Abbie says:

      Chance the Rapper released his album for free.

    6. rennie gomes says:

      The music industry needs to come up with a new audio format that’s not so easily pirated. New kinds of mpegs possibly tied to people’s credit cards. Hahaha.

    7. maxine says:

      Maybe she’s speaking out because the money from recordings isn’t coming anymore. She makes most of her money on her tours as far as I can see, as do most of the big stars. That is why they tour, that’s where the money is. I don’t feel sorry for them when you see the price of tickets for a concert.

    8. Chris says:

      Taylor Swift has a net worth of well over 55 MILLION! Is this not enough for her????? GREED!!!! This is what’s wrong with America!!!! People should BOYCOTT her music!!! I hope that she loses ALL of her material possessions and gains a HEART!

      • Jeff says:

        It is always amazing to me that other people seem to think that they have the right and the power to Determine someone else’s professional and financial worth. Taylor Swift is incredibly successful in an indusrty where incomes are in the millions for those who are successful in it. Instead of being so concerned about determining how much someone else should or shouldn’t make financially, why don’t you choose a career where income potential is higher for yourself. In a free economy, it is both arrogant and ignorant to think that you have the right to determine what someone else’s income potential should be. I agree with Taylor 100%. The music business is just that – a creative BUSINESS, one that rewards creativity with financial profits. There is nothing wrong with that.

        • Hairy Arse says:

          Jeff: YOU ARE ANGRY AND WRONG. Teenage girls and packaging has a lot to do with her success. I think that’s what he is referring to. She’s a puppet for the labels and don’t forget CD sales are 40% down this year – so she’s been put up to this. I mean, she’s published today in the WSJ – think about that. Who’s bidding is she really doing? These are not her words, etc. I don’t think she has a real opinion on the matter (or even a valid one.) She looks around at all her ‘stuff’ and thanks the music labels; and then tell us to continue to buy and support. I’d love to give an artist some of my own money – but I REFUSE to give a music label ANYTHING: they blew it. I purchase Google Play each month for $10.00 – and I listen to any/everything for free. It’s sad (for the artist); and I feel badly. What they need to do is create a tip jar so people like me can ‘tip’ the artist. A little honey jar icon: thanks guys! So the fight here is with Google, etc., and not the consumer. I’m sick and tired of being blamed for listening to ‘free music’. I pay for a service; so instead of shooting the consumer; take the fight to the streaming services (who have taken the labels business away from them.) Why blame me? But again, a tip jar (straight into the bank account of the artist), is the way to go.

      • Asdf Jkl says:

        So you prefer not to be paid for your hard work? If you’re morally opposed to this, please send me your paychecks and I’ll relieve you of this problem.

      • Wow says:

        Swift’s net worth is over 200 million and if you read the WSJ piece you will understand why. It does not have anything to do with greed, it is what she does and people buy it. It is just that simple and your anger is misplaced.

        • Asdf Jkl says:

          whoops sorry, replied to the wrong person.

        • Asdf Jkl says:

          So you prefer not to be paid for your hard work? If you’re morally opposed to this, please send me your paychecks and I’ll relieve you of this problem.

    9. nypbbob says:

      the value is based on consumer demand… its is not the label nor the industry that should set the so called value, this ridiculous notion is the exact reason why artists are barely paid anything (if at all) through streaming services such as spotify, pandora, you tube and other similar business models. when the labels provided their content to those streaming services, they basically said the value per stream is $0.00003 per stream… so tell me, how’s the label setting value working for you taylor? has anyone seen lady gaga’s contract lately? She makes zero $ from streaming…. Largely in part because there is no money to be made.

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