In November 2014, Taylor Swift presented Spotify with its biggest artist-unrest challenge in its history, when she pulled her catalogue from the streaming service. Four years on, November 2018 could see her shake up the wider music industry.
Or not, in fairness: Swift will become a free agent in November when her current deal with Big Machine Records elapses, but she could opt to re-sign with the label or strike a deal with one of the three major music companies.
But it’s fair to say this is being widely seen as the biggest test yet of whether a major, still-at-their-commercial-peak artist can go it alone as an alternative – whether that means signing direct deals with services like Spotify and Apple Music, or going with more of a distribution-style team instead of a traditional label.
“There’s no precedent to look to regarding the top-selling artist of the digital era becoming a total free agent,” attorney Doug Davis tells Variety for its feature about the possibilities for Swift this November.
“If she is seeking to break financial records and extend with a major, she could have the biggest artist deal of the century so far. If she wants to be creative and choose an alternative structure for capitalisation, she could create her own business model.”