Taylor Swift Is Dead To Me

By Spicer Matthews

If you follow my writing at all, you will notice there seems to be an ongoing theme of conversation around building great user-focused products. I typically dive deep into building software products, exploring how to build something that will truly ignite your users. Often you do this by putting your users’ needs above all else. So it hit me hard when recently, I was let down by a person/brand that I really admire – Taylor Swift – as she did not ignite me as a “user” of her products.

Yes, I am a Taylor Swift fan. I like her music, but I also really like her as a person. I think she is authentic. She has been pretty true to herself and her fans since she got her start. Comparing Taylor Swift to Lady Gaga is night and day. With Taylor, what you see is what you get. She has always brought a “keep it real” approach to her music and her brand. 

dead to me

Her new album, “Red,” was recently released, and of course I want to hear it. I’m a Rdio.com subscriber, so I’ve been checking in regularly to see if I can add Red to my play list. It has not been showing up. I figured it just took a few days to show up. Nope! I discovered, via a Techcrunch posting, that Taylor is holding her album back! Let’s just say I turned “red”!

The only way I can listen to her music now is to go out of my way, which I have no intention of doing. I could buy her CD- oh, wait, I no longer own a CD player (or even a CD-ROM drive to rip the tracks). I could buy her music from iTunes, but then I could not include her music in my playlists, as Rdio.com is my primary source of music. Which means I have two options: I either suffer in order to continue being her fan, or I simply choose not to be her fan. Neither of these options are appealing to me. I call this not putting your “users” first.

I am completely disappointed that a young, modern, authentic person such as Taylor would not support the future of music distribution. Why would you go out of your way to block a good chunk of your fans from enjoying your music?

Lastly, from where I sit, this move is completely stupid and short-sighted. Before streaming music services, I bought maybe $25 - $50 worth of music a year. Now, I very happily pay $120 a year for the rights to listen to music streaming. Taylor and her team should realize streaming music services are bringing new money to the industry, and opening up viral marketing opportunities the streaming services have built in (see the Techcrunch article).

I will continue to promote the idea that if you’re an artist, software developer, or creator of any kind, that putting your fans/users/customers above everything else is the most important thing you can do. As for Taylor, until she puts her fans back on top, she is dead to me!