Now Billy Bragg Has Decided to Apologize to Taylor Swift

Lindsay Hood

By Lindsay Hood

on 11.20.14 in News

It’s been an on-going discussion for the past three days, but it seems as though Billy Bragg has decided that he owes Taylor Swift an apology.

On Monday, the singer claimed to have seen Swift’s catalogue included in YouTube’s new streaming service Music Key. Bragg chastised the pop star for taking a stance against Spotify, calling it nothing more than a “corporate power play.” While Swift’s representatives were quick to dispute Bragg’s accusation, he responded just as quickly with several articles from Wired and The International Business Times that reported the same information.

The next day, several publications, Esquire among them, pointed out that Bragg had a personal connection to Spotify; having hosted a monthly “radio show” with the service since February of this year. Again, Bragg provided a response outlining his connection to Spotify and the key differences he saw between Spotify and Music Key — namely, Google’s use of non-disclosure agreements.

Today, however, brings a new revelation. Apparently, Bragg was witness to a demonstration of Music Key’s services where Swift’s catalogue was prominently featured during the presentation. Therein lies the confusion. As a result, Bragg has now issued an apology to Swift via his Facebook page.

Read Bragg’s statement in full below:

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.’