Social Sentiment in Streaming: Taylor Swift and Spotify

The music industry has had to undergo a major transformation due to the advances of music technology. With the government crackdown on the stealing of music via downloads and torrents, tech-savvy music lovers have invested in new opportunities with platforms such as Pandora and Spotify to provide unlimited services for listening to their favorite artists with minimal annoyances. What are the costs? Either suffering through the occasional advertisement on the stream, or paying a minimal fee to play lists offline and and avoid the ads all together.
Music artists are in an uproar over these streaming devices because, simply put, they feel their artistic skills are not justly rewarded. Despite artistic unrest, platforms have changed the face of the music industry: album sales have been radically affected as average cd sales have dropped by more than 50% in the last few years.
 One artist took a stand against the low receivables artists receive for each stream of their songs. Taylor Swift. With about Spotify’s 50 million active users enjoying their services, there is a powerful social response to this topic. Here at Crimson, we decided to investigate social insight into the music streaming debate from the listener’s perspective.
What’s clear from the social data?
People feel pretty strongly, one way or the other about Taylor Swift and her music removal from Spotify. The volume of conversation spiked the day Swift posted her response to the streaming service on her blog, garnering over than 35,500 posts related to the conversation just on November 3rd.
Tswift Volume

Streamed music accounted for 27 percent of music sales in the first half of the year, up from just 3 percent in 2007 to 15 percent in 2012 in the US, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Due to the popularity of this topic in the media landscape, we removed conversation that was deemed neutral, or news-sharing. This portion of the overall conversation was about 73% of overall conversation, which radically shifts the perspective of “who” is discussing Swift and Spotify. With the news sharing portion of the conversation removed, it’s clear that people feel particularly strongly one way or another about Swift’s actions, with net sentiment split at 51% positive and 49% negative.
 Tswift Net Sentiment 
So what are fans and critics saying about Swift’s choice? The most popular retweet of the last few days speaks to the user’s dislike of Swift’s music overall, tweeting the hashtag: #CanBieberQuitSpotifyNextPlease?

Another larger portion of conversation iterates the light banter Spotify shared over their tweets, in an attempt to have Swift rejoin their platform with her collection. These tweets, while light-hearted, belittle the overwhelming sales power of a financially-savvy music titan. Swift newest album has sold more than $12 million in copies within the first week. There are few comparable artists, and it is a major blow to Spotify’s listenership for the pop artist.

While the conversation mainly concerned American consumers, there was a high concentration of response from Sweden, with 95 posts per capita. What’s most interesting is the demographics surrounding the Swiftroversy: 59% of the conversation is driven by men over the age of 35.
 Tswift Map
According to everything we know about Swift, this isn’t her key listener demographic. What this difference aggregates from is a two-fold situation: The power of media sharing and journalist’s influence over demographic breakdowns, and the interest of the male demographic in streaming service platforms. It’s important to note that although the majority of conversation is driven through media resources, the  positive and negative social sentiment is passionately discussing user’s rights to streaming music.
Spotify Gender Topic 
So as this media supported conversation continues to develop, so will the social user’s net sentiment. We will stay updated on the discourse as it evolves to see what else we can glean from the social data around streaming services and artist’s rights.

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