As of 12:01 am Eastern, June 9, 2017, you can now stream every Taylor Swift song on all the major streaming services — even Spotify.
As a PR move, this is masterful.
Famously, Swift and Spotify have some bad blood. (Like all pop-culture writers, I am contractually obligated to make that pun in every Taylor Swift article I write; it’s done now and we can all move on.) In 2014, Swift removed her entire back catalog from Spotify’s archives, citing Spotify’s low royalties and refusal to make certain songs more expensive to access than others. “I think that people should feel that there is a value to what musicians have created, and that's that,” Swift told Time in 2014.
At the time, Swift was at the height of her popularity thus far, and her album 1989 was everywhere. So Swift pulling her music was a major blow for Spotify, who pulled a move from the ninth-grade crush playbook and tried to woo her back with a playlist.
So why is Swift headed back to streaming’s waiting arms now? There are a few possibilities.
The official reason, as announced by the official Instagram account of Swift’s website, is that it’s a simple “thank you” to the fans to mark the occasion of Swift selling 100 million songs worldwide.
A slightly more cynical angle would be to note that Swift has been keeping a conspicuously low profile ever since last July’s Kim Exposed Taylor Party. That moment marked the nadir of Swift’s popularity, and a savvy business woman like Swift knows that the best way to deal with the combination of a negative publicity cycle and massive overexposure is to disappear for a while. So Swift vanished: She even skipped her traditional biannual album release.
It’s been almost a year since Swift went underground, but over the past month or so, Swift appears to have begun testing the waters for a grand re-entry. First, news of a new relationship leaked (allegedly without Swift’s permission). Now this streaming announcement puts Swift back into the headlines, but with a careful distance: She didn’t make the announcement herself, from her personal Instagram account, and it’s written in the third person. It reminds Swift’s fans that they love her, but it isn’t marked by a personal appearance from Swift herself.
There’s a business angle to consider, too. In April, Forbes reported that Spotify was adopting a “windowing” policy, wherein newly released music would be made available only to paid subscribers for two weeks before it was made available to all the peasants with a basic unpaid Spotify subscription. The new policy addresses Swift’s biggest complaint — that Spotify doesn’t place a premium on in-demand music — and Forbes suggested that the change might be enough to bring Swift back to Spotify. We have no way of knowing if this policy change actually did change Swift’s mind or if it’s a coincidence, but the timing is worth noting.
Speaking of timing: Noted Taylor Swift enemy Katy Perry also released her new album, Witness, on June 9. Perry has been building up buzz for months, enduring Carpool Karaoke and poorly thought-out viral marketing schemes involving disco balls. And now, with one fell swoop, Swift appears to be stealing the spotlight for herself.
Now, maybe Swift and Perry have no real beef and concocted this entire story just to boost their profiles and sell albums via a mutually advantageous tabloid drama, and they’re both laughing all the way to the bank. Or maybe the timing is pure coincidence.
Or maybe Taylor Swift really is just that petty.
Whatever Swift’s reasoning, though, the woman’s timing is impeccable. And now you can stream her music everywhere.