Billy Bragg Apologizes to Taylor Swift, Says YouTube Featured Her Music in Demos

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Billy Bragg has apologized to Taylor Swift for saying she “sold her soul to Google”. He’s now saying that he will support Taylor Swift if she’s looking for transparency for artists.

Bragg says that YouTube had Taylor Swift’s music front and center during previews of YouTube Music Key. This gave the impression that Swift had authorized YouTube’s use. YouTube was also claiming that Swift’s back-catalogue would be available on the free version of their service (The Guardian confirms this).

+YouTube Is About to Get Sued by Irving Azoff…

So now the most pressing question is: Why did YouTube think they could make Swift’s catalogue available for free, in spite of everything she’s done recently?

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I want to apologise to Taylor Swift for accusing her of selling her soul to Google. I have learned that her music will not now be available on the new YouTube Music Key service, which launched this week. This is despite a number of credible sources stating in the last seven days that it would be – including yesterday’s CMU newsletter.

My criticism was based on the fact that Swift’s back catalogue was the central feature of a demonstration of the Music Key services given to journalists in London last week, as outlined in the article below.

In response to specific questions about Swift’s music, journalists were assured that her back catalogue would be available on the service, including the free tier.

This fact was reported in the Observer article that I linked to on my first post on this subject.

Learning that Google were using Swift to promote Music Key gave me the impression that her music was going to be front and centre of their launch, the implication being that her Spotify boycott was a corporate power play, rather than an attempt by an artist to make the point that music has value.

I now realise that I was mistaken in this assumption and wish to apologise to Ms Swift for questioning her motives.

The fact that our music is widely available for free on the internet is a problem that all artists struggle with. While so much material is instantly accessible on YouTube, subscription streaming services will always find it a challenge to build enough users to make music viable for artists, who at the moment seem to be at the end of the queue for remuneration.

The time will surely come when content creators have to band together to challenge deals done between rights holders and service providers, details of which are kept from artists and their representatives.

If Ms Swift is going to lead that fight for transparency, she will have my full support.

I would like to add that I will be boycotting the first media outlet to use the headline ‘Bragg makes Swift apology’

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Nina Ulloa covers breaking news, tech, and more. Follow her on Twitter: @nine_u

Image by El Humilde Fortero del Pánico, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

26 Responses

  1. Name2

    There was a sketch on SNL last Saturday which implied that Taylor Swift content could be heard on Spotify.

    Will no one defend the honor of Damsel Swift?

    Reply
      • Name2

        TS content was used to peddle YT post-Spotifygate.

        I’d say here that BB may have gone “over the top” in his original rant, but then, I read DMN’s comments section regularly.

        Reply
      • Anonymous

        “YouTube 0”

        Speaking of which, and at the risk of missing the obvious again, did you see that Google actually used Swift to demo Musickey though they knew her music wouldn’t be accessible on the service?

        Here’s what pcmag said a moment ago: “Later, however, Google told the paper that Swift’s music would not be accessible on Music Key, and that it was only available as an internal demo shown to journalists before launch.”

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          “Speaking of which, and at the risk of missing the obvious again, did you see that Google actually used Swift to demo Musickey though they knew her music wouldn’t be accessible on the service?”

          Oh yeah, you saw it alright. In fact, you printed it in your article.

          Sigh.

          Reply
  2. Anonymous

    “Why did YouTube think they could make Swift’s catalogue available for free, in spite of everything she’s done recently?”

    They didn’t, they just tried to abuse her. That’s what they do.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    “I would like to add that I will be boycotting the first media outlet to use the headline ‘Bragg makes Swift apology’”

    So Billy Bragg/Spotify defame Taylor Swift in headlines across the web — but won’t use the same format to apologize?

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      It’s getting more and more complicated:

      First, Mr. Bragg just semed to lie about Swift because he wanted the media attention. Then it turned out that he worked for Spotify.

      But the interesting part is that Google started the whole thing:

      They used Ms. Swift — without her permission — to demo Musickey to the press and let the journalists believe that her music would be available on the service.

      Here’s what pcmag wrote: “Later, however, Google told the paper [The Guardian] that Swift’s music would not be accessible on Music Key, and that it was only available as an internal demo shown to journalists before launch.”

      Reply
  4. Remi Swierczek

    Let’s stop those absurd discussions!
    We just need to CONVERT RADIO AND STREAMING TO DISCOVERY BASED MUSIC STORE!

    $100B music industry by 2020 with happiness for all.

    Larry Page and his Google is the key to prosperity or continued middle ages in music business.
    Larry time to wake up!
    Stop being a digital MONK keeping music in the dungeons!

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Music did that to itself Remy.

      Now matter how much they join or pay the show and media side of things, meaning how much their paid coverers will lie and lie and lie and lie telling everyone how amazing and pure and ethical and honest and great those people are, it matters not, music is in the dungeon, in the basement, in hell, falling further and further down that pit, simply due to their actions, repeatedly, again and again and again…

      All of those people are, for continually doing what they do… No amount of philanthropic or supposed goody two shoes work will ever make up for their criminal acts and their continued plundering and pillaging of people only further send all music to the bottom of the shithole, where all in that shithole will just get shit and shit and shat upon and quite frankly its exactly what they deserve just for what they have done and continue to do to me, and im not the only one….

      Hopefully some more will step up instead of being flipped by fascist criminals for a tiny wee bit of fame!!!

      Class Actions Suits will be fine with me, fuck all of em at this point!!! All guilty, weed em out later…

      Reply
  5. KS2 Problema

    A little more light and a little less heat helps everyone.

    I, too, was confused by media coverage and social media discussion of Swift’s logistical maneuvers with regard to subscription versus ad-supported streaming — although my take on Swift and her motivations was somewhat different.

    While I always have supported an artist’s right to sell her music where she wants and not where she doesn’t (within the latitude offered by other contractual obligations, at any rate) regardless, I had got the impression that Swift was opposed to all streaming — which is clearly not the case, since her music apparently remains in the stream catalogs of paid subscription services. Thanks to a recent Guardian article which sorted through and clarified a number of issues pertinent to this discussion.

    Reply
  6. Derek

    So Bragg was fooled into thinking an artist didn’t leave a service due to being exploited by Big Tech because she was being exploited by Big Tech? heh

    Reply
  7. al

    …but why isn’t she pulling her entire catalogue from youtube ? would only make sense, after all, youtube is spotifiy’s biggest competitor !

    Reply
    • steveh

      Swift has a long established youtube channel with her videos. So does Billy Bragg.

      This is not the issue.

      The issue Bragg falsely complained about was his mis-assumption that Swift was actively promoting the use of her tracks on the new Youtube Music Key service. This was subsequently shown to be a false accusation and Bragg has apologised.

      Youtube Music Key in fact has got off to a terrible start because most people cannot understand the difference between it and the regular youtube video service.

      The regular youtube video service is highly regarded by artists as a promotional tool for their videos. Spotify fails to provide anything approaching the promotional uses of regular youtube.

      Youtube Music Key on the other hand sucks……

      Reply
  8. Willis

    Does Bragg have a new album release or tour coming up that he is promoting through this stunt?

    Reply

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