The New York Times spoke with four anonymous “executives at major streaming services,” none of whom expect Reputation to stream immediately upon its November 10 release, though “plans could change at any time.” Spotify was the only service to comment on the record:
For those who have been watching Spotify closely, there have been signs of a lack of promotion of Ms. Swift’s music. When she released a new track, “Call It What You Want,” last week, the song did not appear on Spotify’s popular “New Music Friday” playlist.
Graham James, a spokesman for Spotify, declined to comment on whether the service would have Ms. Swift’s album. When asked about the song’s absence from its playlist, he said, “Our policy is to work with artists and managers who want to work with us to connect with their millions of fans on Spotify.”
Probably not what you’d say about someone with whom you have a great and healthy working relationship! Swift famously pulled her music from Spotify in 2014 in protest of paltry royalty payouts; her catalog returned to the service earlier this year, making her previous album 1989 available there for the first time. As the Times points out, that album sold millions of copies before Swift permitted it to be streamed. Only a tiny cadre of contemporary pop stars have the wattage to sell more music by making it less widely available. It’s a club that includes Swift, Adele, Beyoncé, and almost no one else.
Advance singles from Reputation—”Look What You Made Me Do,” “…Ready For It?,” and so on—were released on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, but singles tend to perform better on streaming than full albums do. Swift’s own website lists four preferred retailers: the iTunes store, Target, Walmart, and the official Taylor Swift Store. None of those are streaming services, and three of the four offer physical CDs. Even Swift’s choice of brand partnerships seem to favor hard copies. Reputation arrives with a pair of commemorative print magazines at Target and a pre-order sweepstakes through UPS.
There is at least one place you’ll be able to stream Reputation on release day: the on-demand listening service built into commercial radio behemoth iHeartRadio’s mobile app, officially known as iHeartRadio All Access Powered by Napster. The “iHeartRadio Reputation Album Release Party,” an hour-long special, will broadcast Friday evening on more than 100 of the company’s stations, iHeartMedia announced today. Likewise, the only concerts Swift has announced to promote the album so far are at iHeartRadio-sponsored holiday shows. In what’s left of the battle between music tech and the music establishment, her position seems clear.