Well friends, it was only a matter of time before I blogged about Taylor Swift. Here are the reasons why I’m a Swiftie.
She works really hard, because it’s her career
For all the manufactured pop stars I grew up with in the early 2000s (I was a Britney fan), watching Taylor Swift’s career has been fascinating because of how much ownership she takes over every decision. There is no puppet master behind the career of Taylor Swift, inventing and plotting her marketing campaign. She makes decisions based on what is best for her career and her fans. Watching a female pop superstar take complete ownership over her career is amazing.
There’s a great little anecdote from Billboard’s “Woman of the Year” story:
When I knew the album had hit its stride, I went to Scott Borchetta [CEO of Big Machine Records] and said, “I have to be honest with you: I did not make a country album. I did not make any semblance of a country album.” And of course he went into a state of semi-panic and went through all the stages of grief — the pleading, the denial. “Can you give me three country songs? Can we put a fiddle on ‘Shake it Off’?” And all my answers were a very firm “no,” because it felt disingenuous to try to exploit two genres when your album falls in only one. I never want to pull the wool over people’s eyes, because people are so much smarter than a lot of marketing professionals give them credit for.
She also fully admits that she works at it, really, really hard. Melissa Block from All Things Considered chatted with Taylor Swift about her recent album release, and throughout the interview Swift talked about how she planned and executed her marketing campaign. My favorite quote is when Swift talked about how she works late, just like any of us would, to figure out how to do her job better:
I think that what we [artists] need to start doing is catering our release plans to our own career, to our own fans, and really get in tune with them. I’ve been on the internet for hours every single night figuring out what these people want from me. And when it came time to put out an album, I knew exactly what to do.
She’s empowered by her girlfriends
I absolutely love it when Taylor Swift posts about her girlfriends, because it’s just so darn refreshing. Remember when the early 2000s were story after story of Mariah and Whitney catfighting, or Britney and Christina screaming at each other? And pretty much all the media coverage talked about who they were dating. It was the same for TSwift: I’ve seen my fair share of “See all of Taylor Swift’s Exes [Photo Gallery]” articles on the internet.
As Grantland’s Molly Lambert wrote: “[Taylor Swift] had lost control of the narrative about her dating life. So she changed the conversation.” By fostering an awesome community of girlfriends.
I wish I had this cool of a role model when I was a tween. As Swift told Cosmo UK: “My girlfriends and I talk a lot about feminism and the inequality between the way men and women are talked about. The kind of things we say are: ‘Why is it mischievous, fun and sexy if a guy has a string of lovers that he’s cast aside, loved and left? Yet if a woman dates three or four people in an eight-year period she is a serial dater and it gives some 12-year-old the idea to call her a slut on the internet?’ It’s not the same for boys, it just isn’t and that’s a fact.”
I absolutely love this quote from Time Magazine:
“I surround myself with smart, beautiful, passionate, driven, ambitious women. Other women who are killing it should motivate you, thrill you, challenge you and inspire you rather than threaten you and make you feel like you’re immediately being compared to them.”
Watching a megasuperstar consciously and deliberately change the media narrative, and then refocus that energy on the amazing women around her? To the point where the photo galleries of exes have turned into infographics of her girlfriend circle? So. totally. awesome.
She’s not too cool to be mainstream
For everything that’s hipster, indie and cool these days, Taylor Swift knows that to sell her brand, she needs to be able to work with mainstream brands. Throughout her career, she’s spent album launch days both at Walmart and Target buying her album (she knows her demographic). This is what makes her extremely approachable and not too precious as a star.
It’s also marketing genius — the week that her album came out, she also released this Diet Coke ad:
Along with a deluxe album edition at Target:
Pair that with an appearance on Good Morning America, a cover story on Rolling Stone, a performance on David Letterman and a guest judge gig on The Voice, and no one could avoid the Taylor Swift media circus during the 1989 album release week. With 3.34 million albums sold so far, it worked.
She’s pretty darn genuine about her fans
Have you seen Taylor Swift on Tumblr? It isn’t a PR flak churning out fake posts. It’s really Taylor talking to her fans, and she’s hilarious. Like when she comments on gifs about herself, admits she left the house wearing a shirt backwards, or gets called out on her iPhone settings.
She also invited fans to her house for secret listening parties (she hand-picked them by stalking their blogs)…
And mailed them a bunch of Christmas presents…
And invited them to dance on the set of her music video.
She’s killing it on social media, and she’s kind to fans every time she steps out the door. Surely she must have snarky days? As she told Melissa Block (while wearing a Pegacorn costume):
I realize the only privacy I’m really entitled to is when I’m in my own apartment or my own home, ’cause everything else is kind of — I’m looked at as sort of public property. …I need to be grateful. I need to take pictures with people when they ask for one. So if I’m not in the mood to do that, I don’t leave my house.
And what else has she done for her fans? Well… just read this post.
And finally, I love her music, and being a Swiftie is just super darn fun.
If you’re looking for even more TSwifty reading (because who isn’t?), check out Vanity Fair’s “How I Learned to Love Taylor Swift.”
This was a very interesting post. I learned a lot more about Taylor Swift and respect her as an entrepreneur even more now.
I’m going to check out some of the videos you linked and try to learn to love 1989.
Here is the BusinessWeek article I was talking about at Workbar: http://mobile.businessweek.com/articles/2014-11-12/taylor-swift-and-big-machine-are-the-music-industry
Do I now qualify as a “expert blogger” in your eyes? :)
That BusinessWeek article was awesome, thanks for sharing. I love learning about the business-side of the music business, I find it fascinating.