So a huge trending topic right now is the feud between Zayn Malik (former band member of One Direction) and Calvin Harris (Taylor Swift’s beau). For those who are severely out of the loop (and I don’t blame you if you are, the world of celebrity gossip is pretty pathetic… yet I can’t help but be swayed in), here’s what went down.
Zayn retweeted an image comparing Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus’ sentiments on the ‘value’ of music. The tweet has since been deleted, but basically the images contained statements from each of the female artists concerning free music.
As it can be seen, Swift states that she didn’t like the way it “felt” when her music was on Spotify’s free streaming service. Cyrus, on the other hand, says she feels that she’s “made her money” and that she doesn’t care if nobody buys her album. Heck she’ll even put out her album for free.
I’m not here to discuss Zayn and Calvin’s little Twitter spat. I think they both kind of dealt with the topic in a very immature and narrow-minded manner.
…stay out my fuckin mentions pls
— Calvin Harris (@CalvinHarris) August 17, 2015
Oh and I write my own shit too dickhead
— zayn (@zaynmalik) August 17, 2015
^ Oh, adults.
Instead, I’m going to focus on the issue at hand- and that is:
Information and Content Freedom in Neoliberalism & Capitalist Society.
So let’s take a look at Tay-Tay’s perspective (and incidentally the perspective of her equally tall and blond partner-in-crime). They believe that music services such as Spotify are hurting the sales of music and therefore giving less income to the artists. It’s especially significant if you’re not Taylor Swift (who makes millions anyway from sold out tours), but instead you’re a struggling artist recording EP’s in your bedroom while trying to make ends meet.
As a creator myself, I understand why Taylor would want to monetise as much as she can from the music she creates. So yes, Taylor, you have a very valid point. Artists, musicians, writers and everyone in the creative industry wants to be paid for the content that came out of their genius minds and (hopefully) inspired many.
Now let’s move on over to the other side. The other side of the struggling university student, or the child who comes from a family that’s doing it tough financially. I personally would rather pay $12 a month for a Spotify subscription and have access to an endless library of music than pay $13-$21 for an album that I’m going to get sick of in two weeks anyway.
Of course, for Taylor Swift and all the other big name artists out there, it doesn’t matter whether they’re on Spotify or not. Their celebrity status is their marketing tool. For smaller artists on the other hand, exposure is a big thing. So if I can’t access the content of these smaller artists, or if it’s too expensive for me (personally) to access their content, how can I support them and rave about them to my friends? How can I lead the horses to the water if I can’t even afford the water myself?
I’m not saying that either perspective is right or wrong. I just think there needs to be a middle ground where citizens are given information freedom whilst at the same time being able to support their favourite musician or band. Maybe I’m just a very moral and ethical human being, but if I find a musician that I absolutely adore on Spotify for free, I’ll go follow their social media. I’ll buy their merchandise. I’ll buy their physical album. Heck, I’ll even dish out money for concert tickets and maybe even plane tickets (as was the case for Eurovision!!!).
I’m not a major fan of Taylor Swift, but if I actually had access to her album, perhaps I would be. Maybe I’d be such a fan that I’d be able to justify spending $129 for her concert. Or maybe I’d become a hardcore fangirl and go the extra dollar and spend $600 for VIP tickets. Because hey, according to her, “there should be an inherent value placed on art.” … To me, that’s kind of like saying we should put a value on freedom of expression and whoever can’t afford it, well, tough luck you’re just going to miss out!
My most treasured and precious musical finds have been through free information discovery. I think the long-term value of ‘free’ information is inherently more precious than looking at each immediate thing with dollar signs etched into the eyes of the creator.
As I’ve said, I’m a creator myself. I love to create content but I know nobody is going to pay jack shit for what I have if I don’t prove myself first. Of course, Taylor Swift is trailblazing through the industry so she doesn’t have to prove herself. But for us struggling creators, we need to be able to justify why our audience is going to want to fork out the big bucks for our art. We can’t just slap on a predetermined value and say, “Here, you, little girl. Pay for this because I have nice legs.”
It’s a great debate though and I’m interested to hear other people’s thoughts (and preferably not Zayn’s or Calvin’s since it seems they both can’t express themselves without issuing an ‘f bomb’ here and there)!
What do you think of the Zayn Malik and Calvin Harris feud? Better yet, what do you think of the issue of music and artistic circulation? Leave your thoughts below!