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Taylor Swift/ Spotify row has ‘shined a light’ on difficulties of its business model – SapientNitro’s Daniel Harvey

Taylor Swift’s decision to pull all of her music catalogue from music streaming site Spotify has “shined a light” on the difficulties of its “pari-mutuel” model, according to SapientNitro’s experience design director Daniel Harvey.

Speaking at The Drum’s Disruption Day event, Harvey said Swift’s move, which the singer blamed on a loss of revenue, has revealed the problems that exist with a freemium model, and is actually less about artists' rights and more about “artists' hypocrisy”, after Swift chose to leave her YouTube videos live to watch free.

“She’s really caused everyone to pull their hair out to some degree,” he commented. “The debate has shined a light on the difficulties of the pari-mutuel model that Spotify uses to drive its business and drive revenue to the artists, but it’s also created this environment where it’s not just about artists' rights it’s about artists' hypocrisy.

“If Taylor was really concerned about the freemium model she would have pulled her music from all free services, instead she’s still available on YouTube, creating a spike of 20 million extra views on the service.”

Meanwhile Neil Dawson, chief strategy officer at SapientNitro, said that music artists and their representative are struggling to feel their way through the ongoing disruption in the music industry, and as a consequence are making “epic fails” as they go.

“The music business is moving from a sales model to an access model – the monetisation of access is now where it’s headed. A lot of artists and their representatives are really struggling to figure this out and making lots of mistakes and epic fails on the way.”

Last month Adele’s manger, Jonathan Dickens, rallied behind Spotify, which he called the “the future” of the industry “whether people like it or not”.

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