The new Taylor Swift single is ‘Out of the Woods’ – the second track from her new album ‘1989’, which comes out next week.
It was released on iTunes to buy this week, sparking a predictable surge of excitement from fans on social networks. But in the UK, that quickly turned to anger when it emerged that the song wasn’t available on Apple’s UK iTunes Store. It still isn’t, at the time of writing.
Swift has a large and passionate fanbase, so it was no surprise to see this quickly becoming a hot topic. In fact, “UK iTunes” was even trending on Twitter in the UK as fans vented their annoyance.
And Swift took to her Tumblr to address the row. “I realize that you are not yet able to get ‘Out Of The Woods’ due to a new strategy my record label is working on in the UK,” she wrote. “I’ve never been one to hold my music back from any of you so I will be watching closely to see if this is ultimately a better experience for you, the fans.”
A new strategy? Well, almost new. “My good friend Ed Sheeran utilized the same strategy with ‘One’ in the UK and he seemed very happy with the feedback from his fans. But ultimately, it’s down to you. Let me know,” wrote Swift.
We profiled Sheeran’s campaign in our Sandbox digital marketing report in June: ‘One’ was released as an “instant grat” track in the run-up to the release of his album ‘X’. But the problem in Swift’s case is that ‘Out of the Woods’ is being released in a different way in the UK to other territories.
No wonder British fans are cross, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see some kind of digital treat heading their way imminently by way of apology.
Swift has been one of the most high-profile artists to use windowing in terms of keeping new albums off Spotify and other streaming services to maximise sales on iTunes and CD.
But global fandom on social networks being what it is, windowing music from individual iTunes Stores risks being a recipe for fan disgruntlement.