Taylor Swift Removes Catalogue from Chinese Streaming Services

Taylor Swift’s best-selling album 1989 has notoriously been absent from all free streaming service options in the U.S. This was followed up by the decision to remove Swift’s entire catalogue from free platforms. Her team has been carrying this out on a global level.

Taylor Swift’s entire catalogue has now been removed from free streaming services in China.

China Music Business points out that the average Chinese digital music consumer expects music to be free. They expect it even more than the young generation of torrenters in the western world. Less than one percent of digital music consumers in China pay for streaming music. Most Chinese services aren’t currently able to make different music available to free and paying users.Streaming service QQ Music says:

“We respect the decision made by the artist or label and have followed the instructions. However, we hope that in the future, when there is a chance to meet with the decision maker, we can explain more about the current situation and explore other ways in which to tackle problems and change the market accordingly, as Tencent knows online user behaviour more than someone with no experience in the Chinese Internet market.”

Like Spotify, Chinese streaming service Xiami makes the same catalog available to both free and paying customers. Xiami says they are now working on changing this policy. Swift’s songs have been streamed a total of 43 million times on the service.

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China Music Business spoke to a 17 year old Taylor Swift superfan, Li Zhiyi. She said:

“if I had the economic resources to pay for her music, I probably would… If she released a new album next week and did the same thing, I’d still listen to it illegally. I’m not an adult, I can’t earn money, how am I supposed to pay for music? Downloading illegally is easier than asking my mum, and you can always find a way online. Only rich people who’ve lived in the US would consider paying, I think. Most people wouldn’t pay in China, because we’re used to free.”


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

19 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    So whats better for the industry? A free-paid model like Spotify, where service cost ranges from $0-10 per month. Or a paid-only service that costs much less? Rumor has it Apple is actively working on lowering the cost of royalties for Beats for a relaunch next year. We could perhaps see service tier at $5 per month. Maybe even cheaper.

    We has a chance to set the price point at $13-15 per month like Rhapsody/Napster charged. But instead of helping Rhapsody/Napster grow at that price, the music industry just kind of left them struggling and went out and licensed other services who were willing to do anything to get subscribers, no matter the price.

  2. DreamCoastMusic

    Well maybe it’s time for people in China (and everywhere else) to get ‘un-use’ to free music. Because it wasn’t always free. I people listened and brought it and created superstars and there were concerts, etc. The idea that music should be free makes no sense. Nothing else is free. I applaud Taylor Swift and I wish more artist would follow her lead. Everybody can come back to streaming music when streaming music makes sense for labels, fans AND artists.

    • Anonymous

      “maybe it’s time for people in China (and everywhere else) to get ‘un-use’ to free music”

      Indeed — and maybe it’s time for artists from the West to remove their music from the Chinese ‘market’ in general.

      One billion potential customers are certainly tempting, but Chinese censorship gets worse all the time (and yes, it is possible to make it worse).

      • Anonymous

        And, uh, just how are they going to do that? You can’t simply remove music from a massive market that cares so little about copyright in general. DMCA take downs do not apply.

    • Versus

      Some young people from China whom I met on a trip recently showed me the apps on their phones which were essentially “free” version of the iTunes store, for everything from apps to music. When I criticized the ethics of this approach, their answers included:

      “Why would I pay for something when it’s free?”
      “Anyway, I think Adele has enough millions”.

      I tried to press up on them, by asking how they would feel if someone stole their work and didn’t pay them for it. They didn’t understand the comparison.

      These were gainfully employed, middle class (or higher economic class), people in their 20s, mind you.

      • Anonymous

        China has a completely different mindset when it comes to music. And it is unlikely to change.

    • Anonymous

      Plenty of stuff is free. Talking is free. Why should a recording of someone talking cost money?

      China is not a market you can simply convince to start paying for music. The general populace has a mindset that music should be free and the level of copyright enforcement in China allows that idea to thrive.

  3. Versus

    That “superfan” should be fined. You’re not a “fan”, much less a “superman”, if you steal someone’s music.

    The argument makes no sense. How did non-adults listen to music when it was only available on CD or records? Somehow it was not too difficult to have parents pay for those.

    • Anonymous

      I think we should try getting copyright in places where it used to work before we tackle a Maoist culture never had any respect for IP to begin with,

      • Anonymous

        Communism has always been the end goal of the Chinese Communist Party. How is this not plainly obvious based on their own damn sayings and actions?

    • Anonymous

      Taylor Swift is a great humanitarian. She did a great service to the Chinese people by making it more difficult to access her neuron-killing music. I wish she’d care about her countrymen more though.

  4. Willis

    If she really wants to have an impact, she should remove her music from all sites and stores.

  5. John C

    Taylor Swift’s RED (full album) is still available on YouTube somehow. I’m quite sure that “Nig Swift” is not the copyright holder for this album. When is YouTube going to stop cheating? Or better yet, when is someone going to step in and make proactive filtering of previously removed music a standard for all of these streaming “disservices”.