Billy Bragg Apologises To Taylor Swift After Spotify “Power Play” Comments

Just days after he accused Taylor Swift of making “a corporate power play” and selling her soul to Google, outspoken activist musician Billy Bragg has issued an apology to the country-pop star.

Earlier this week, Bragg publicly criticised Swift and accused her of acting hypocritically, claiming she masked her decision to pull music from Spotify as “some sort of altruistic gesture in solidarity with struggling music makers” and suggested that her music will instead be made available through the new player in the streaming game, Google’s YouTube Music Key.

Swift’s representative denied claims that the singer has entered into an arrangement with YouTube Music Key, saying, “Taylor Swift has had absolutely no discussion or agreement of any kind with Google’s new music streaming service.” That now appears to be true, with The Guardian reporting Swift’s full albums are not available on the new service, only those that have videos on YouTube’s existing platform.

Overnight, Bragg has issued an apology to Swift, saying he was misinformed about her connections to the Google service. “I want to apologise to Taylor Swift for accusing her of selling her soul to Google,” writes Bragg. “I have learned that her music will not now be available on the new YouTube Music Key service, which launched this week.”

Bragg explains he was informed by a “number of credible sources” that Swift’s music would be on the site, and said his criticism was based on the fact that Swift’s back catalogue was used in the promotional material for Music Key services given to journalists in London last week.

“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,” he writes.

“I now realise that I was mistaken in this assumption and wish to apologise to Ms Swift for questioning her motives.” Bragg adds that many musicians struggle with the fact that their music appears free for consumption on the internet and if Taylor Swift wants to lead the “fight for transparency” in the deals made between rights holders and service providers, she will have his support.

In a previous post on his page, Bragg explained why he has vocally supported streaming service Spotify in the past and even compiles monthly “talking playlists” for the company. “As artists, rather than resist them, I believe it is in our long-term interest to engage with the streaming services,” he writes.

“That’s why I often find myself defending Spotify – for all their faults, they have set the bar high in terms of transparency and we should be demanding the same from other streaming services.”

See the two statements below.

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