We said this during the 1989 era as well – regardless of your opinion of Taylor Swift and her music – her strategy is as well penned as her lyrics.

What was the 1989 strategy? In short:

  1. Taylor announced her entire plan in a WSJ op-ed
  2. She played the perfect media-to-album launch
  3. She took a stance against streaming companies
  4. Over 1 million in sales in the first week
  5. Followed by loads of social posts, 'candid street shots' etc
  6. Swift was in the media constantly for probably about 2 years for being nice to fans, donating to various causes – in short, "being the perfect role model for little girls".

'reputation' era begins

For various reasons, it doesn't really make sense to keep up this image of cutsey perfection any longer. Why? "'cause she's dead!" (lol-jk). But actually because:

  • she was reaching overexposure saturation point
  • perfect gets boring and uninteresting #annoying
  • well... there was that whole situation with the West family #snake
  • her fans are older
  • she was getting criticised loads for the 'authenticity' of the perfect facade #fake

Oh, and it seems a tad disingenuous when she is influential enough to have Apple reverse a policy because of her in less than 24 hours, she can charge her assaulter a symbolic $1 via court rooms, and is worth $280 in self-made millions.

None of That is Particularly Cute

The reality in which a starry-eyed blondie can unironically sing "Romeo, Save Me" in a periodic gown and even the one who tells her peers to "Shake It Off" when the haters knock, is no longer hers. It's not just a couple of BFFs flipping through each others diaries anymore – she has been met with the full force of a spotlight strong enough to shave off Britney's hair and triggering a many ah-meltdowns à la a-listers.

To stay true to her ethos as a songwriter, writing authentically about her experiences, her latest work needs to reflect her reality that is darker but also more glamorous and powerful than a teenage heartbreak.

In short: she went badass y'all.
Not necessarily because she wanted to,
but to keep thriving – she kinda had to.

No wonder she deleted all her social media accounts.

'reputation' Strategy

She still writes about heartbreak. Swift had already criticised 'take down' culture online and in the media, before she experienced a particularly cruel one last year.

The victim this time?
Her reputation of course.

This time it's not some actor who shatters her heart, it's the media cycle itself that she chronicles as crushing her whole.

And it's not just her music that's pointed, not everybody gets to play along. In this game of destruction, the entire strategy purposefully excludes those who don't play nice (or by her rules). After all, there's nothing she does better than revenge.

So the Strategy Basically Writes Itself:

  1. delete all social accounts (symbolic clean slate)
  2. minimal social posts, done by management (Insta + Twitter turned against her pretty bad, so they're out)
  3. absolutely no press (completely opposite to the 1989 era)
  4. loads of fan stuff though (secret listening parties for 500 fans, still likes fan theories on tumblr)
  5. absolutely no unauthorised photos (willing to sue)

When you have 80 million fans per social network, you don't need to dance for the press –– as one Beyoncé Knowles proved –– you'll get press anyway.

Take care of the fans, the fans take care of the rest.

The Only Way Is Swiftie's

So those are the obvious broad strokes, but Swift seems subtly tuned to things that only become noticeable when she's done it, first.

DIGITAL – 4 Singles Ahead of Release

None of her four lead singles have been as big as singles from her past, but speculations seems to indicate that this was a good move in terms of making sure her album sells loads.

Is it because people move quicker through music now? Is it because she wanted to dominate streaming charts with multiple entries? Who knows, but Look What You Made Me Do didn't last very long at the top and wasn't very radio friendly – yet shattered at least 8 records on the day of release including YouTube and Spotify streaming records. Or is it because it sells albums?

"reputation is our biggest entertainment
pre-sale of all time, across movies, music and books"

– confirmed by a Target spokesperson in Billboard

PHYSICAL – Physical Sales Ensured

The good thing about physical album sales? Money. It's possible to charge a higher premium for a physical product. That's it. Swift knows, and knows that an album on it's own doesn't sway, in the same way. So what does she do?

Partners up with Target (massive distribution across the US) and creates a physical product her fans (the actual people actually listening) want. Like really want.

This materialised as this magazine which seems irresistible to a Swiftie. But she didn't make one, she made two. Each comes with a CD. She's basically sold two physical CDs now, per fan. That's leaving out the digital version (which many might buy as well, counting three sold copies per fan).

"how have i already spent over $100 on reputation
and i havent even heard it yet?"

Jemima Skelley, a professional Swiftie (as far as we can tell)

TICKETS – Fans (with money) First (in line)

AKA the Taylor Swift Tix powered by Ticketmaster Verified Fan mouthful

It's hard to say anything concrete about TS Tix until, you know, tickets go on sale. But initial impressions: fans seem excited, and music media people sceptical. But then again, what else is new?

In all fairness, the biggest criticism is that it's a pay-to-play. Although who are we to argue with a $10 for the album plus $80 for the ticket versus $300 on a secondary ticket sales website...

"She is the Radiohead of the digital ­generation.
She's the only one that checks every box: ­digital, physical, tickets.
In my mind, she's the most powerful commodity in the music business."

Jeff Rabhan, chair of the Clive Davis Institute
of Recorded Music at New York University in Billboard

It's Pretty Clever Actually

"Make The Joke First, And Make It Funnier"
Taylor Swift

Today is her last day with no reputation.
Tomorrow, her reputation is hers – again.