Billy Bragg Falsely Accuses Taylor Swift of Promoting YouTube Music

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As I stated yesterday, Taylor Swift’s catalogue isn’t available on the free version of YouTube Music.

Multiple publications are claiming that Swift’s back catalogue will be available on YouTube Music Key and that 1989 won’t be available at all. This information is unconfirmed. Even if it were true, Taylor Swift’s whole deal is not making her music available on free services, as it decreases the perceived value of music. A deal like this could potentially be in line with her public statements (if YouTube held her music from the free version).Swift’s rep issued the following statement (which should’ve put the whole thing to rest, but hasn’t): “Taylor Swift has had absolutely no discussion or agreement of any kind with Google’s new music streaming service.”

On the other hand, Billy Bragg has a radio show partnership with Spotify.

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

44 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    But isn’t everything available on the paid version of YTMK also available on the free version as art tracks?

    • Google Play = YT Music Key

      Everything ingested into Google Play, a PAID platform is being ported to YT Music Key – EVERYTHING. YouTube Music Key has a FREE Tier, so it serves to reason that 1989 and Swift’s catalog will be available for FREE unless Taylor removes all of her music from Google Play… we’ll see…

  2. Hippydog


    I must admit theres a bit of the pot calling the kettle black in this..
    he basically calls her out for being underhanded but he is essentially doing the same thing .

  3. Name2

    Bragg’s right about several things, particularly at the end: Swift is making corporate power plays (BB is just wrong about the particular form they are taking) and trying to sell them as altruistic gestures for music makers and Art.

    The resulting hysteria is closing in on pro-wrestling territory.

  4. DNog

    Regardless of underlying points or moves, it’s the original headlines that the majority see and Swift’s audience pummel’s Braggs. So despite what ever Corporate power-play move this may or may not be the general audience is questioning Spotify and streaming services now more than ever and that’s all that really matters.

  5. Anonymous

    “On the other hand, Billy Bragg has a radio show partnership with Spotify”

    Yeah, let’s see what Spotify and its thugs achieve from harassing a young woman who hasn’t done anything wrong.

  6. David

    Could we have the facts? What Taylor Swift tracks are available on the new YouTube service, and are they there by agreement or just because they have been uploaded illegally to the existing YouTube service and haven’t (yet) been taken down?

    According to this Wired article, the only tracks available are those posted as official videos:

    If Taylor Swift is indeed the ‘headline name on the marquee’, isn’t it a bit odd that YouTube themselves aren’t ‘bragging’ about it? Also, if Billy Bragg is so concerned about ‘honesty’, why doesn’t he mention that he is on Spotify’s payroll?

    • Stu

      well, it’s a bit muddled. All the full albums EXCEPT Red and 1989 were on YTMK when it was shown to journalists in London last Wednesday (I was one of them) and later that day Google explicitly confirmed that Red was also available. Since then, I did email Big Machine to check but had no reply.

      So if they’re not on YTMK now, I guess they were on unofficially for the demos (which would be… interesting) and have now been taken down.

      I think Billy Bragg jumped to a conclusion about a deal with Google, but the albums were definitely available on the service a week before it went live

    • Stu

      Okay, it’s quite rum. The albums WERE on YTMK last Wednesday when it was shown to journalists in London (I was one of them) but this evening they are definitely NOT on the free tier at least:

      Note albums tab on Beyonce’s YTMK artist card, but no albums tab on Taylor’s. So something happened in the last week to remove them…

      • Name2

        So not only is Bragg not on Spotify’s payroll, Taylor Swift was indeed teased as available on the new YT service at a press launch.

        When will we see retractions and apologies???

  7. David

    This gets curiouser and curiouser. On Facebook and Twitter Billy Bragg has denied that he is paid by Spotify for his ‘curation’ work, which I am happy to accept, so I withdraw my claim that he is ‘on Spotify’s payroll’. But he has also been challenged to give his evidence that Taylor Swift has done a special deal with YouTube, and so far he has only claimed to have seen it reported in unnamed ‘articles’. I have searched for such articles, but apart from new articles based on Billy Bragg’s own claims, the only thing I have found is the Wired article I linked to earlier which doesn’t support his claims.

    • Anonymous

      “On Facebook and Twitter Billy Bragg has denied that he is paid by Spotify”

      I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Bragg is a troubled character. I also think it’s fair to assume that he’s being used by Spotify to discredit Ms. Swift.

      Here’s more about Mr. Bragg’s recent work for Spotify, written by Guardian reporter Stuart Dredge:

      Spotify signs up Billy Bragg for ‘talking playlist’ radio shows

      Billy Bragg is joining Spotify for a series of “radio shows” – playlists collecting some of his favourite tracks. The first goes live tomorrow (11-Feb) and will be followed by a new show at the start of every month.

      I’m looking forward to using my ‘talking playlist’ to introduce listeners to some of the amazing material in Spotify’s back pages,” said Bragg in a statement.”

      SOURCE: Musically, February 10th, 2014

      • David

        Bragg specifically denies that he is paid for compiling these playlists, and I accept that. It is the kind of thing he might well do ‘pro bono’. Not to be confused with Bono.

        But I still can’t find anything to support his accusations against Taylor Swift, which are very strong, and reckless if he has no evidence to back them up. Under UK libel law he could be wiped out if Taylor Swift chose to sue him.

        BTW there is a well-researched article in the New Yorker here:

        • Paul Resnikoff

          But I still can’t find anything to support his accusations against Taylor Swift, which are very strong, and reckless if he has no evidence to back them up. Under UK libel law he could be wiped out if Taylor Swift chose to sue him.

          Let’s see. Scott Borchetta’s lawyers came after me/DMN because of a headline Scott felt went too far. Not sure if Taylor/Big Machine are chasing people down in the same way.

        • Anonymous

          “Scott Borchetta’s lawyers came after me/DMN because of a headline Scott felt went too far”

          Haha, why doesn’t that surprise me… 🙂

          Anyway, there’s a huge difference: Any court would say that your headline was naughty but ironic, while Mr. Bragg and Spotify obviously are trying to defame Ms. Swift in any way they can.

          [Sorry about replying to the wrong comment, but the verification system kept telling me that 3 x 9 was not 27. What can you do…]

    • GGG

      I’m pretty sure there have been no articles doing anything besides conjecture about why she pulled out of Spotify. Before Borchetta brought up the free/paid tier issue, even I was assuming she’d approach other services with “sure, I’ll stick my music on…if you give me $20M right now,” because she probably CAN do that. And it’s entirely possible she still might do, but it was a bit presumptuous of him to make the claim that adamantly.

  8. derby

    Through it all – the interesting/heated debate regarding music artists and music streaming platforms – the one constant is that Taylor Swift is perfectly mediocre. There is nothing remotely special about her musical output. It’s not terrible; an ideal template for pop stardom. But it’s so average.

    All this hoopla over an average pop singer who happens to have the right look, with the right management, at the right time.

    She deserves all her acclaim and money, but not having her on Spotify (or wherever) is not a big deal – because her music is not a big deal.

    If Loretta Lynn or Steve Winwood or Prince decide to pull their music from streaming services – now we’re talkin’. That would be awful.

    But Taylor Swift? I guess there are enough 15 year-old girls who are sad about the Spotify deal, but I, for one, could care less if she ever returns to any streaming service – which are a lot more important than she is any day.

    • Anonymous

      “All this hoopla over an average pop singer who happens to have the right look, with the right management, at the right time”

      That’s what they said about the Beatles.

      • Name2

        It’s what they say about everybody.

        That doesn’t make everybody the Beatles.

        • Anonymous

          “It’s what they say about everybody”

          Everybody succesful, you mean.

    • Anonymous

      Taylor Swift’s music is the kind of shit you get stuck in your head and you hate yourself for it. It’s just completely braindead music with a catchy tune. Personally I think it’s a fuckin conspiracy.

  9. Name2






    — DMN staff.

  10. FarePlay

    To be expected. Trash the messenger to discredit their message. And what a BS claim made by Bragg, total conjecture.

  11. oh please fuck off

    Anonymous Wednesday, November 19, 2014
    But isn’t everything available on the paid version of YTMK also available on the free version as art tracks?

    Nina Ulloa Wednesday, November 19, 2014
    yeah, sorry. realized this after i hit post. updated that info.

    so your headline is wrong

  12. David

    Billy Bragg has now made a public retraction and apology on Facebook. But it does seem that he had some basis for his original claim, as YouTube’s ‘dummy’ version of the service, as shown to journalists last week, included Taylor Swift albums. It looks like YouTube thought they would get clearance but didn’t.

    • steveh

      Obviously Youtube got it wrong.

      But with regard to the hypocrite Bragg that’s nowhere near good enough. He personally attacked Swift in the strongest terms for “taking money from Sergey Brin” – without the slightest bit of evidence.

      Bragg is a volunteer shill for Spotify – I find this disgusting….

      And why didn’t Spotify themselves immediately disown Bragg’s false comments? Because they were using him in order to attack Google, that’s why.

      So the supposedly “left-wing” Bragg ends up batting for a team of voracious capitalists against another team of voracious capitalists. This is beyond hypocrisy!

  13. Willis

    Bragg got ahead of himself on this one, but I must agree that Swift is using this situation for self-promotion.

    • Anonymous

      Swift didn’t do anything of the sort.

      Spotify tried to use the situation for promotion, though — and failed miserably…

      • Willis

        It appears that you haven’t been paying attention, then. Swift could have pulled her content quietly, but she didn’t Instead, she plastered it across the media and used it to fuel her career and album release. And it worked.

  14. derby

    Does anyone on here actually listen to T. Swift? Just curious. I mean, her music is pretty forgettable, right? That’s only one opinion, but I wonder how different the debate would be if it were… another artist.

    There are not that many big-time, mass appeal artists out there, to really rock the boat like Swift. So she fits the bill for having mass popularity as part of her brand.

    BUT — because it’s Taylor Swift in the middle of this debate does that make it even more heated for certain people who happen to think little to nothing of her music?

    Is it different if its Dylan, or The Stones, or Clapton or Tom Petty or Prince… and so on.

    • steveh

      The significance of Swift is not just that she is very successful but crucially she is young (age 24).

      She is from the post-Napster generation. Yet she adamantly believes that recorded music should be paid for.

      It somewhat breaks the myth, made by defenders of Spotify etc, that young people who grew up in the internet age tend to see music as an entirely free commodity.

    • Name2

      There are a lot of questions that can fit in that wiggle room: demographics; “lean back” vs. “lean forward” listeners (cf. the Tech issue of the NYer on Spotify’s founder); whether one’s days as a wicked-hot seller of pieces of plastic are behind or potentially lie ahead; who pays for music?; who doesn’t?

      But some people insist on turning this into a sexist/rockist debate, which it might not necessarily be. One can have a problem with “Taylor Swift” based entirely on the corporate ideology that “she” stands for: namely, them who’s got shall get (more than unnamed nobodies per stream).

      God Bless the Child who’s got his own.

  15. al

    ok… but the key point i take from billy is still, why isn’t she pulling her tracks from youtube ?

    • 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 ne 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……