Everybody seems to have an opinion about Taylor Swift’s recent and abrupt decision to pull her music catalog from Spotify--one of the main players in the music streaming industry. While some wish to discuss the fate of the streaming industry, there are some great marketing lessons to be learned amid the excitement of Swift’s latest record and her decision to abandon a new and developing channel in her industry.
Here are four marketing lessons from the Swift Vs. Spotify hullabaloo:
1. The rules are different when you are the market leader. One of the main reasons Swift can make this decision and have people even care is because she is the top-selling music act this year, by a lot. Her latest record, 1989, sold more than any album in the last 12 years in its opening week. This is also amid a rough decade when physical CD sales are slowing down. When you are the top of your industry, you are given a lot more freedom and power.
2. Going against the ‘market stream’ is risky. Choosing to disregard the growing channel of streaming music and removing herself completely from the streaming landscape is a risky move for Swift. While in the height of her career, it may seem inconsequential, but is this really a viable long-term strategy? The amount of whiplash this caused was loud, and put a headline damper on her highest sales week ever.
3. The Four P’s still matter - Product. Price. Place. Promotion. While price remains fairly stagnant in the music industry, Swift has become a master of product and promotion. This was her first foray into meddling in the ‘place’ or channel that her product is available. We often see progressive moves in channel delivery, but seeing an artist leverage a new channel, and then back out, is very uncommon. This can put a wrench in Swift’s entire marketing plan. Now that she is forcing customers to download or buy the music at a brick and mortar location (her preferred mode, as recently revealed).
4. Supply and Demand still reign. The reason why Swift is able to do this right now is because she has a unique good to offer the market, and the demand is huge. Few other artists could have launched an entire album and done well, let alone had a week half as good as Swift’s. Although Beyonce and Coldplay have attempted similar moves in this last year, neither performed nearly as well in generating demand for their music as Swift did.
Whether or not you believe Swift will cave and re-submit her music to streaming services, it will be an interesting story to follow over the next few months and years. One thing to remember is that she is the exception, and if she wasn’t the exception she couldn’t leverage traditional channels and still perform.