To be clear, Spotify never had her current album, “1989,” which is likely to be the year’s best-selling LP with over 1.3 million copies selling in its first week, a mark the industry hasn’t seen since Eminem’s “The Eminem Show,” according to Billboard. And that was back in 2002 when CD sales were still somewhat frothy. The Web has since decimated the music business, making Swift’s “1989” sales all the more interesting.
Swift’s previous albums also weren’t initially released on the streaming service, part of a strategy to spur album sales. It seems to have worked as her last two LPs cracked a million copies in the first week.
But taking down her entire back catalog is unusual. The straightforward answer here is that her label, Big Machine, might just be trying to bank on the standout success of her new album to stoke sales of her previous recordings. But we don’t know that for sure since they haven’t explained why they’ve pulled down Swift’s tracks.
There’s been a long-simmering tension between artists and Spotify, which recently lowered its pricing plans, and though it says it pays out 70 percent of its revenue to the labels, artists like Jimmy Buffett have complained their cut is too low.
Separately, Big Machine is currently looking for buyers. Founder and CEO Scott Borchetta, who discovered Swift in 2006, is asking for $200 million or so in a sale, according to the New York Post, which also reported Swift only has one more album left on her contract with the label. She owns a piece of Big Machine, so she’d probably profit something in a sale.
We’ve reached out to Borchetta and Swift’s representatives for a comment.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.