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Billy Bragg apologises to Taylor Swift, offers “full support” in “fight for transparency”

By | Published on Friday 21 November 2014

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg has apologised to Taylor Swift for suggesting that she had accepted money from Google to promote YouTube Music Key, after it emerged that none of her albums feature on the new streaming service.

It had been widely reported (including by us on one occasion, for which we can only apologise and then pass the buck) that Swift’s catalogue would feature on YouTube Music Key, minus new album ‘1989’, as journalists were told at a press briefing by YouTube last week. This despite the new YouTube set-up, like Spotify, having freemium and premium fully on-demand levels after Swift’s label had said that its problem with Spotify was compulsory participation in the free element of the service.

Though as people got access to the invite-only beta version of YouTube’s actual subscription set-up earlier this week, it became apparent that this wasn’t the case. Meanwhile, the singles that are available via the Taylor Swift ‘watch card’ in both freemium and premium actually come from Vevo, and the plethora of unofficial user-uploads of Swift’s tunes on the wider YouTube platform seem to be gone following a pretty efficient takedown spring clean by the singer’s reps.

Earlier this week, calling out Swift for bailing on Spotify over its freemium level, but then seemingly getting into bed with YouTube’s equivalent, Bragg wrote on Facebook: “What a shame that Taylor Swift’s principled stand against those who would give her music away for free has turned out to be nothing more than a corporate power play”.

However, writing a new Facebook update yesterday, Bragg said: “I want to apologise to Taylor Swift for accusing her of selling her soul to Google”.

He continued: “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 … 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”.

In conclusion, he said: “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”.

He also barred journalists from using the headline ‘Bragg makes Swift apology’, which accounts for the clunky mess you see at the top of this story. Look at us, passing the buck twice in one story.