Taylor, cheers to a year of 1989

It's been a year since Taylor Swift's 1989 was released to the public.

And, trust me, my friends will tell you that I am insane, because, you know, I love the album. And I still listen to it day in and day out.

1989 is an album that was on the Billboard 200 for 11 weeks and the Top 10 for 52 consecutive weeks, according to Tree Paine. In the process, Taylor has made so many new friends, including many new loyal fans, raised the standards for herself and the entire music industry, stood by her brand and her values and done so much more, including performing on her 1989 World Tour in Japan, Europe and North America.

Over the past year, I've learned a lot, thanks to 1989 and Taylor. One of those things is that it's always fun to Shake It Off. So, it made my entire life that Google Top Contributors and Googlers got down to Blank Space at last week's 2015 Google Top Contributor Summit celebration. Consider it both a celebration for all the work Google's Top Contributors and Googlers have done and all the accomplishments of Taylor Swift this year.

That night was honestly one of the best nights ever in my life and one of my favorite moments. Everything happened right there and nothing could have been planned. It was so raw and so organic and everyone was so willing to have a good time after an intense day of serious work, something I have noticed each time I have been at the Googleplex. It was a great way to end a week of new friendships and I am so grateful this happened.

As a bonus celebration, at the 2015 World Expo Milano this weekend, I started dancing when Shake It Off came on at the US Pavilion rooftop bar. Pretty soon, everyone there joined in and we had the most fun time (https://twitter.com/iantangprvte/status/657960888188559360).

Taylor Swift and 1989 have helped me grow in so many ways this year, just like each of her other albums: Taylor Swift, FearlessSpeak Now and Red. It's something I have talked about in the past, whether it is helping me put my feelings and thoughts into actual words or being the role model that we all should have. Taylor is a different type of artist and person. So today, I thank Taylor and join her in celebrating. Maybe one day, I'll be able to do that in person.

Note: The video was recorded by Patti Kratzke.

First year

This week marks the first year of living with +Google Glass—not one year, but the first. As in there is more to come. 

I still remember seeing the UPS truck downstairs, setting Glass up for the first time and more. The journey since then has been so exciting, surprising and constantly refreshing—we are in uncharted territory and everything is so new.

And, genuinely, for me, Glass continues to bring magic to life. It has positively changed how I interact with technology, whether it is getting directions, searching +Google, sending a message or just taking a photo without missing the moments that matter. This weekend in New York, as with many other situations, I really felt like I got to push technology out of the way most of the time and explore, while also relive the moments exactly as they happened afterwards.

Glass invigorates me with the same energy I felt when arriving in New York for the first time: ever-changing, nonstop innovation and undying optimism and belief in core ideals.

Photo credit: +Deepa S

Of course there are a whole list of improvements Glass can undergo. Of course there are situations where Glass is not suitable and where I don't wear Glass, just like regular glasses or smartphones. But, I think most people forget that this is a highly beta project and still a Google moonshot, just like +Project Loon+Google Fiber, and the +Google Self-Driving Car Project.

Personally, I don't think Glass will ever be a failure for Google however this goes—it will either continue to evolve or be a valuable insight into wearable technology for the future. So, while the haters continue to hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, we, the players, are gonna play, play, play, play, play, as +Taylor Swift eloquently puts it.

The media may write whatever they wish about Google like how +Google+ is going to die, or Glass or even Taylor Swift, but I'd rather spend my energy supporting risk-takers, the future, the ideals they stand for and a better life. All these risk-taking brands and people I support are far more than what the media portrays—just look at Taylor's actual album sales versus what experts projected. Plus, the broad reception I receive from the public about Glass just does not align with how the media usually characterizes it as.

Sharing the magic with various people and seeing their faces light up with joy as they learn about what is true continues to give me goosebumps.

But, most of all though, the past year has seen a whole bunch of passionate, smart people come into my life, online, in real-life or both: the community of Guides and Explorers shaping this whole project, including +Chara Kelley+steph lake+Virginia Poltrack+Jeff Bond+Spencer Kleyweg+Morgan Tuohy+Jeffrey Young+Ana Medina+Christopher Rios+Brian Kelley+Mason Rothman and +Eddie Daniels, just to name a very few.

Here's to what we accomplish together next, +Google Glass and #GlassFamily.

My thoughts on why Spotify is flawed

+PCMag states it best: "Good music that people enjoy has to be worth something."

That's the precise problem with Spotify—it is probably the only music product on the market today that offers an on-demand music library, free-of-charge.

Many have compared Spotify to other streaming services, such as +Pandora. The problem is, by definition, Pandora and Internet radio, designed specifically for discovery, and subscription services, like +Beats Music and +Google Play Music All Access, are based on completely different models. Internet radio provides limited ability to play the exact track on-demand and subscription services are obviously paid services. 

Spotify has created users who feel entitled to virtually owning and playing specific music at no charge. For example, I have seen comments, from Spotify users, asserting that Taylor Swift should have her music on Spotify because not everyone has the financial ability to purchase it or how costly it would be to pay for music. I'm not sure when we evolved into a society where content, and other peoples' works, that took valuable skills and insane amounts of time to create, were taken for granted. Or, as +The Telegraph puts it, "we now have an extremely entitled culture, where any kind of art is seen as a communal property." Certainly, not everyone can afford books, movies and even Android devices or iPhones, all various types of content and products that hard-working people create and turn into reality.

In an interview with Yahoo!, Taylor summed up how she felt when she tried releasing new music (Shake It Off) directly on Spotify: 
I felt like I was saying to my fans, "If you create music someday, if you create a painting someday, someone can just walk into a museum, take it off the wall, rip off a corner off it, and it's theirs now and they don't have to pay for it." I didn't like the perception that it was putting forth (Taylor Swift).  
Taylor Swift performing in Arizona during her RED World Tour.
I have always believed that the Internet should be free and open and that we should create better marketplaces and channels for content to be accessed and distributed at reasonable prices. This should be decided by the equilibrium of supply and demand. This is our best bet against piracy, not distributing content for free or keeping it in exclusive, far-to-reach corners of the web.

A lot of people, especially those that I have had a pleasure of discussing this issue with, believe Taylor is being greedy or selfish. I disagree. She is continually adding to the next generation of the music industry and trying to solve some of the biggest problems it has ever faced. She is standing up for superstars and indie-bands alike, because her position allows her to. It's why various smaller artists have tweeted her, praising her stance against Spotify, calling it "a streaming service that doesn't pay."

Payment in exchange for creative and valuable content is simply so that those same content creators creating all the things we enjoy can continue to innovate and bring us even more quality content. It's the same reason why big-name artists, including Adele, +Coldplay+Beyoncé and others, have followed the approach of releasing Spotify versions months after their music actually comes out. Unfortunately, smaller artists don't have the ability because they first need their music just out there however and wherever it can be—it's time they should start making money too.

In fact, according to PCMag, 
Swift wanted to keep her latest album on delayed-release, or at least only available to Spotify's premium subscribers, which Spotify didn't want; hence the impasse.
I am not saying that streaming services aren't the answer. But, I do not think Spotify and its flawed model, in particular, are the answers we are looking for, both as consumers and content creators—we will get lower quality of content and content creators cannot make a living. The music industry is ripe for innovation, but Spotify does not have the solution.

At the end of the day, Taylor Swift ignited an important conversation about how much we value content and everyone should be happy about that.


Additional Articles
"Taylor Swift vs. Spotify: Why Music Should Not Be Free"

"Taylor Swift Shuns 'Grand Experiment' of Streaming Music"

"Taylor Swift left Spotify because we stopped valuing art"