Taylor Swift's 1989
Taylor Swift's 1989 album is finally here. The first time I noticed her, she was this girl who kept winning all these awards and being completely shocked by it all the time. I was so caught up in the cool currency, my opinion was "she's so boring and lame". Slowly and steadily the Taylor has been winning me, and clearly the rest of the world, over by being professional, hard-working and intelligent. Her Ellen interviews got me interested, and I started guilty pleasure-ly checking out her music.
She has been campaigning her latest album 1989, since July. This is the woman who seems completely unaffected by the music crises. She has sold more albums than Britney Spears, Eminem and Prince; all of whom had the advantage of selling records while people were still buying records. She at the age of 24 has won 226 awards for writing music (amongst other things including seven Grammys (including Album of the Year in 2010 four Guinness world records (including most simultaneous hits) and she has had 43 singles on the Billboard’s Hot 100 since 2008. The 1989 album only came out today, so this is of course before those sales.
Instead of us having to wonder how she does it she conveniently explained it to us in her WSJ article.
“Music is art”
Art is valuable so it’s yours to NOT undervalue it
“In my opinion, the value of an album is, and will continue to be, based on the amount of heart and soul an artist has bled into a body of work” Instead of artists giving their work away my hope “is that they all realize their worth and ask for it”
“Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.” The artists and labels need to “decide what an album's price point is. I hope they don't underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”
“We want to be […] left in awe.”
"My objective is to constantly provide the fans with the element of surprise. I walked out onstage every night of my stadium tour last year knowing almost every fan had already seen the show online.”
While this is presented here in a fairly nonchalantly ‘oh-this-is-just-something-I’ve-noticed’ manner, Taylor Swift completely hits the nail on the head here, nothing she does is by accident. The truth is we as the audience have no idea what we want. If we were in a position to envision and communicate what we wanted from the artist, guess what that would make us? You've got it. The artist. It is the role of an artist to keep us entertained or amazed, in Taylor’s terms "left in awe".
The currency of online following
“I haven't been asked for an autograph since the invention of the iPhone with a front-facing camera. The only memento ´kids these days´ want is a selfie. It's part of the new currency, which seems to be how many followers you have on Instagram. In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans not the other way around.”
What we think
Swift effortlessly and accurately notes ongoing development in how we engage with music has started to affect the actual music itself. “My generation was raised being able to flip channels if we got bored” she adds so it is no longer the album that has to be captivating, but every song, beat and note. She finally explains that it isn’t that people have stopped purchasing albums. It’s just that they buy fewer, making them more selective of the ones they buy:
“They are buying only the ones that hit them like an arrow through the heart or have made them feel strong or allowed them to feel like they really aren't alone in feeling so alone. It isn't as easy today as it was 20 years ago to have a multiplatinum-selling album, and as artists, that should challenge and motivate us.”
Taylor Swift has a knack for taking big complicated concepts and explain them in plain English in a paragraph. That's probably from her years of experience writing songs, concentrating the complicated matters of the heart into a catchy phrase.