Taylor Swift Inc. Implements Cost Saving Measures (An Essay)
We’ve all experienced it before. Maybe it was a small local service company, or a decently-sized technology start up, or even a regional restaurant chain. Whatever it was, it was a company that didn’t do business in the status quo. They actually answer their phones, they manufactured or procured their stuff locally or in the USA, and they generally made you feel good about doing business with them. Whatever they were doing or selling, the idea behind it was so smart, they didn’t have to sacrifice customer service, or the human or local element for the concept to work, and it was such a relief to interface with the company compared to corporate competition that simply treated you like a number and obsessed over the bottom line.
And then the sale or buyout happened, or maybe the company just got too big to be able to continue the quirky and cool way they did business. It’s the price of success. Next thing you know, they’re making their stuff in China, outsourcing customer support to India, training of employees and the overall human element is marginalized, and the founding philosophies that made the company such a success in the first place are forgotten. It is the achingly-predictable life cycle of an American company. At some point, if they’re successful, they just get too big to do any of the small things right.
Invariably when a company gets to a certain size, cost saving measures are implemented at the behest of a hot shot executive brought in from another sector of the business world who’s savvy at taking emerging companies to the next level, but is out of touch with a company’s core principles. Or maybe cost saving measures are outsourced to a consultation firm. A lot of times the same American consumers who feel marginalized by a company they once loved are actually the ones to blame. As soon as a company becomes publicly traded, investors demand the company show increasing profits each quarter, many times necessitating these cost-saving curbs be instituted company wide.
You have real live humans answering your phone? Put in an automated system and send everyone else overseas. You’re using skilled workers in service-oriented positions? Save on labor costs and hire warm bodies who can get the job done. Someone is doing something similar to you? Sue them. It sometimes takes years for consumers to burn through the good will a brand has forged with them before cost saving will begin to wear on their loyalty, and by that time the company has become so big, they can afford to lose some customers in the grand scheme, as long as the profits and losses continue to balance.
What does any of this have to do with Taylor Swift, or country music for that matter? That’s a good question.
Taylor Swift right now is at that same juncture as your favorite little company that has grown so big their founding philosophy begins to flounder, and they start to alienate the same customers and principles that got them to where they are. The problem with money is that you can always have more of it, and for many, the more money they have, apparently the more they think they need.
Taylor Swift’s move to pop in 2014 was designed to take her to the very top echelon as a music artist, and it has done so quite admirably. So how do you squeeze more money out of your situation when you have already reached the pinnacle of your discipline? You control costs, you protect assets, and you figure out ways to squeeze more revenue out of the same sources.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen Taylor Swift reign in and protect her brand like never before, and doing things that, at least on the surface, differ from her core founding philosophies as an artist. The first move was trademarking some 37 phrases from her recent album 1989. Okay so what? An artist has many reasons they may want to protect the lyrics that the public identifies with them and their music. But one of the strange things about Swift’s trademarks is that some of them are for quite mundane and common phrases. Stuff like, “Nice to meet you, where you been?”
What was the reason given for the trademark applications? Because Swift wanted to protect herself from potential sellers of T-Shirts and such who may take these Swift phrases and profiteer on them. Subsequently, Swift also cracked down on Etsy sellers who are using her likeness, or her lyrics to sell stuff.
One of the key ingredients given credit for Taylor Swift’s worldwide success was her propensity to interact with fans in such an intimate way. She was known to answer every single email sent to her by fans in the MySpace days. Then she encouraged fans to make T-Shirts, signs, and props (similar to many of the items found by Etsy sellers) to show their Taylor Swift spirit, even incentivising this behavior by rewarding throngs of concertgoers who made the most noise and put together the best presentation with backstage passes to meet Swift after shows.
And then the shows got bigger and bigger, and the demands on Swift’s time greater and greater. Soon the backstage spirit awards were replaced with Swift saying she would watch fans as they leave, and read all their signs and appreciate their effort that way. Her last album 1989 had little sweepstakes cards where fans could enter a code for a chance to meet her on tour, but invariably the percentage of fans who actually have a chance to interact with Swift continue to decrease. Hey, this is understandable, but now some fans are being served cease and desist orders for the same behavior Swift used to encourage. It’s that moment you walk into that favorite neighborhood restaurant, don’t notice any of the waitstaff, and the menu has changed to food that’s not as good, and more expensive.
Taylor Swift has already been her own corporation for years. But now she’s reached that apex level where the only way you can make more money is to find ways to save it. So shut down the Etsy sellers, and shuttle your lyrics to the copyright office, and get ready to sue anyone who doesn’t comply. Some reports have Swift set to release a massive merchandising line that make the trademarks of her lyrics somewhat necessary. But still, why be so aggressive against others? Doesn’t Taylor Swift have enough money already?
On the surface, Taylor Swift is better to her fans than most pop stars of her size, or even smaller. You can’t venture into the social media world without seeing a story on Taylor Swift sending gifts to fans, reaching out to someone through Instagram, or visiting an ailing supporter in the hospital. Whatever she does, the cameras and reporters are there chronicling everything. It’s not even that the sentiments behind Swift’s good deeds aren’t real. She’s a big star, and can’t see everyone, and her philanthropy is nearly unmatched in entertainment. But the intent is to create a corporate facade of Swift interacting with her fans on a more intimate level than what reality presents. It’s like Exxon and BP running ads during Sunday morning political shows touting their environmental record.
Hey, Taylor Swift has every right to protect her name and intellectual property. Don’t get me started about how many times the registered trademark “Saving Country Music” has been ripped off. But it would be a little bit different if she were a starving songwriter trying to protect her sole revenue stream from music. Taylor’s Spotify issue is just another example of wanting to control the market, marginalize loss, and squeeze every last dollar possible out of an intellectual asset. Yes, there’s also artist protection philosophies that run parallel with this behavior, but let’s not pretend money isn’t a factor too.
At Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, Taylor Swift got shut out of the awards. Granted, it was only one single “Shake It Off” that was really eligible for anything, and with its marginal artistic quality, wasn’t really considered a front runner anyway. But she still lost, and since she left country and the possibility of winning CMA and ACM awards, the once very award-decorated songstress is on sort of a losing streak when it comes to award hardware. Yes, she remains rich beyond all of our comprehensions and wildly successful. But is this all about the money, or is Swift still worried about how she is perceived as an artist? Does she want to still contribute to music, or just use it like any business model—to squeeze as much revenue from it as possible, and worry about the future when it comes? What happened to the awkward girl with her guitar, writing her own songs and relating to America? What happened to our generation’s Joni Mitchell?
Meanwhile the man who did walk away with Grammy hardware Sunday night was producer Max Martin—the man Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta suggested Taylor Swift bring on board back during the recording of her album Red, who co-wrote her first major pop smash hits like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble,” and the man who was the executive producer and co-writer for many of 1989‘s tracks. He won Producer of the Year—the very last of 70-something awards handed out in the pre-telecast event. Though many of the bigger names in country and beyond didn’t bother to be in attendance to accept their awards, Max Martin was, and Scott Borchetta was on hand and beside him at the podium. So Taylor walked away empty handed, but the producer at the forefront of turning Taylor pop, did.
So what does all of this have to do with country music?
Absolutely nothing and positively everything. Right now the distribution deal for the Big Machine Label Group—of who Taylor Swift is the cash cow of—is up for grabs, and the company is clearly looking for a dance partner for a new deal, including entertaining offers for an acquisition by a bigger company. Recent rumors have iTunes as Big Machine’s latest suitor, but as always seems happens with these deals, Apple denies any involvement. Nonetheless, as Big Machine and Taylor Swift goes, so could go the entire music industry—country music and beyond.
Taylor Swift has one album left on her Big Machine deal, and Scott Borchetta will be doing everything he can to get her back under contract. Nothing will weigh more into the decision of who Big Machine lines up distribution with than what Taylor Swift will want moving forward, and Borchetta has said he doesn’t want to deal with a major label. This move has implications on how all music is distributed to consumers moving forward, not just the Big Machine roster, and will be directly affected by Swift’s motivation to protect her intellectual assets—something that may not be such a bad thing for smaller artists to potentially benefit from.
Maybe Swift doesn’t need more money, but Joe Schmo songwriter sure does. As the biggest music star in the world, Swift could enact a trickle down effect, and it’s not necessarily bad that she’s showing some leadership in this realm. The Grammy Awards made a special point in 2015 to talk to the public about protecting the revenue streams for music, and making organizations to fight for music rights in Washington. The issue of Spotify and songwriter payouts aren’t just smoke and mirrors, or PR from Swift Inc. These are the biggest challenges facing music today.
So what will happen? We have no idea. But what we do know is Swift has officially reached the point where she’s looking to hedge bets and protect assets in the name of continued growth. So you better watch out for your homemade Swifty T-shirts, and make sure you don’t use any of the wrong phrases on your personally-made Taylor Swift key fob on CafePress. Because there’s money to be made, and it ain’t gonna being made by you.
February 9, 2015 @ 11:45 am
Interesting Read Trigger. I’m not a huge Taylor Swift fan by any means, but she has gotten a lot of things right in the past.
February 9, 2015 @ 12:08 pm
Taylor being litigious is nothing new. Like every big star (Beyonce et al), she protect her brand. Of the cases we heard about, she sued a sports bar in 2009 for not paying songwriting loyalties, while in 2013, a Rhode Island shop owner was sent a lawyer’s letter for selling unauthorised Swift tshirts.
February 9, 2015 @ 12:40 pm
Nobody is saying Taylor Swift never sued anybody before. But this seems to be a measurable change in philosophy palpable to both fans and the general public.
February 9, 2015 @ 12:53 pm
It’s being presented in that way because of a few cases within a few weeks. But whether that’s actually the case rather than an easy media narrative remains to be seen.
Swift has never ever allowed third parties to sell merchandise with her name/ face/ lyrics. So what’s changed?
February 9, 2015 @ 1:12 pm
Well, the Spotify quotient for one, the trademarks for another, and the seemingly more aggressive stance against resellers on Etsy, which is not where you’re going to find the bulk of counterfeiters or trademark infringers, but boutique handmade small time sellers looking to share their love for an artist. I agree the depth of this move is hard to calculate at the moment, but there’s plenty of evidence that we are experiencing an uptick.
February 9, 2015 @ 1:31 pm
The boutqiue owner in Watch Hill, RI would surely allign himself with the Etsy crowd and that was 2 years years ago. But yes, I accept your point.
February 9, 2015 @ 11:20 pm
I saw this tweet from a friend of a friend. I know nothing about the situation that was being described, but I gotta say this is hilarious!
February 9, 2015 @ 12:19 pm
Everybody grows up.
February 9, 2015 @ 12:25 pm
Is it possible that the reason all the horrible non-country albums go straight to #1 is because all the big label heads and producers and such buy millions of the albums?
February 9, 2015 @ 12:26 pm
February 9, 2015 @ 1:49 pm
I just don’t understand how any human being can possibly think, “Hell yeah! Trucks beer hot girls dirt roads + rapping and electric dance music! Can’t get more country than that!” I mean, anything electronic or rap related is the exact opposite of country. Country is real instrument music by definition and I don’t see how anyone can possibly want to hear only songs about trucks and beer and where the girls are all objectified. Unless trucks and partying are literally their whole life, which isn’t very many people.
February 9, 2015 @ 1:52 pm
Unfortunately, songs like that are hugely popular. Just a quick glance at the massive concert audiences for bro-country acts serve as good evidence.
February 9, 2015 @ 4:03 pm
I would love to say only dumb people like it, but I know some very intelligent people who love bro-country. I guess that’s not such a bad thing necessarily, especially when you really are a genuine redneck, it’s the fact that the music is labeled “country” when it’s music is more like the ghetto culture. Country items doesn’t make something country, and country definitely isn’t about drinkin’ and drivin’ trucks constantly. They don’t even have to talk about trucks, if it’s on country radio, people think it must be country. Country radio+any song=country song. That comes from a lack of understanding; country=real instruments(preferably steel guitar included)+real vocals+real meaning. Pop country=fake everything. Chanting, rapping, and EDM have no place in country, both culturally and musically. And as soon as you add those elements it becomes anything but country regardless of what it’s about. Good for you if you like those things, just don’t call it country!
February 9, 2015 @ 2:39 pm
People buy bro-country pop because radio overplays it, sort of like brainwashing, kids are the most easily influenced and brainwashed, and the guys singing it look hot. Sadly the powers that be want to turn country music and radio pop. Here’s a head of Clear Channel programming saying he loves Sam Hunt:
At least Taylor admitted she’s pop and isn’t a poser taking up space from country artists on country radio.
February 9, 2015 @ 3:21 pm
In order to buy music, one has to really like it. Also, the radio would not overplay a song unless it had some real grassroots support.
It is important to remember that bro-country did not arise in a vacuum. It was rooted in the country-rap movement that was initially resisted rather strongly by radio. This movement, along with the incursion of pop fans, pushed bro-country to the top.
February 9, 2015 @ 4:25 pm
Except, the Country Station in LA still played “Shake it off,” still talks about her upcoming tours, still talks about every move she makes ad nauseum, etc.
She left country, but country won’t let her go.
February 9, 2015 @ 5:02 pm
What I can’t figure out is how kids can afford to buy her music or really any music in a large enough amount to make something a hit through sales. Most teenagers I know don’t have any real money outside a dinner at a fast food joint and that is assuming they have a job. And so to buy an entire album seems hard to do also most places a kid is going to actually buy music is on-line and doesn’t that require a credit card?
Maybe it’s just my area but unless you were a music junkie in my HS days most people had like 5-10 albums they bought themselves over 4 years because they just didn’t have the money, the rest might’ve been gifts or what have you. And maybe kids don’t buy albums any more but single songs.
Still, I have never been able to figure this out other than the parents are buying this stuff and stuff like concert tickets for One Direction… I don’t want to blame the parents but I kinda blame the parents for supporting this drivel or at the least not looking into the content of the music. Teens don’t by things their parents do.
Or as my friend used to say, “Take my parents money!”
February 9, 2015 @ 6:06 pm
You sound arrogant, Bear.
Anyway, Taylor Swift’s “1989” costs about $13 on iTunes, which many teens can afford just with their allowance money. Also, as I keep mentioning, her fan base includes vast numbers of adults as well.
February 9, 2015 @ 9:45 pm
“People buy bro-country pop because radio overplays it, sort of like brainwashing, kids are the most easily influenced and brainwashed, and the guys singing it look hot. ”
YESSSSSSS ! This is ALL its about . ” I want to like what everybody else must be liking ” . Kids ARE impressionable . And so are BIG kids . These aren’t MUSIC fans buying these nursery rhymes . These are POP CULTURE fans -Kardashian fans , Anniston fans , Dr. Phil fans . Its not about the substance factor on these fronts . Its about being part of SOMETHING …just a giant fan club made up of people who like being part of a giant fan club who accepts them as part of the giant fan club . Its safe , its perceived as normal , its a way to be accepted by peers , by strangers , significant others etc. It has always been thus . The digital age and the communication methods it offers has only allowed this ‘fanaticism’ to happen on a larger scale . Social media is THE most powerful persuasive force in the world . A knowledgeable artist/label will learn how to harness that force and make it work for them . It has NOTHING to do with artistic merit , social usefulness or education . It has EVERYTHING to do with the amusement factor that is entertainment and with watering the ‘product’ down to a consistency which allows the MOST number of takers to get on board then pay for the ride . Its simply incredibly effective marketing to ensure maximum return on your investment .
February 9, 2015 @ 10:16 pm
I know I’m a guy, but I really don’t see how these people are “hot.” Then again I’m also a nerd who wears leather jackets and cowboy boots to feel macho, and I’m attracted to girls who are both smart and hot, and super attracted if they wear leather and boots. Everybody has their own thing I guess. But seriously, these bro-country idiots are in no way attractive. Look at the picture on Cole Swindell’s EP “Down Home Sessions” and tell me that’s not the stupidest pose in the history of humanity! FGL looks equally dumb in their pictures. The fact that girls find douchebags who can’t even form complete sentences or understand the basic structure of the musical genre they are poorly attemting to sing “hot” just illustrates the atrociously depraved state of the human race. And WHY do they pose like that!? They must know how ridiculous they look!
February 10, 2015 @ 12:05 am
Well, Albert, in order for a giant fan club to develop in the first place, a large number of people have to deeply like the music to begin with.
Artists and labels cannot use marketing alone to develop a solid fan base. Look at Kacey Musgraves, for example. She belongs to a major label and has received a stronger push than most of the bro-country acts. However, the bro-country acts keep getting #1 hits, while Kacey has not even reached the top 10 in either radio or digital sales.
This tells me that most country fans today just like bro-country more than traditional country.
February 10, 2015 @ 12:15 am
Kacey’s problem is that there isn’t a large mainstream audience that likes traditional country music and also identifies with her persona. The hip and liberal young people don’t listen to traditional country. But most traditional country fans are older people who tend to be more religious and conservative. Kacey has struggled on the charts for the same reason that it is hard for gay Republicans to get elected in politics.
February 10, 2015 @ 4:25 am
“Its about being part of SOMETHING ”¦just a giant fan club made up of people who like being part of a giant fan club who accepts them as part of the giant fan club.”
Ha ha ha. This is a dead-on accurate description of a large chunk of modern pop culture and social media. Good one, Albert. You should think about trademarking that phrase.)
Regarding bro-country: while its popularity can’t merely be explained away – obviously a lot of people like it – it’s worth pointing out that a sizable portion of the audience which has sustained the phenomenon are modern rock radio refugees who aren’t part of country radio’s typical demographic. In addition, bro-country also alienated a lot of people, and not just traditional country purists – a lot of the folks who had previously made up county radio’s core audience drifted toward other radio formats during the height of bro-country. (And right now country radio is in the process of trying to woo them back.)
That is not to say that there isn’t a certain amount of crossover between fans of these various types of commercial country, or that it’s necessarily right that suburban soccer mom types get to rule country radio; the point I’m getting at is that the matter of what type of music ascends to the highest level of popularity in radio at any given time is highly contrived- more so than ever nowadays due to shrinking playlists.
Also, if country radio reflected actual album sales, Kacey Musgraves would be played more than the vast majority of bro-country artists, just for example.
Anyway, I could go on, but I’ll just link to this comment by Windmills Country. I don’t agree with absolutely everything she says, but she undeniably has good info.
February 9, 2015 @ 12:46 pm
Taylor losing at the grammys for shake if off is not news. Absolutely no kne predicted it to win. It was nominated because it has a huge cutural impact. Taylor selling nearly 1.3 million albums in a single week, being the only woman in the history of the hot 100 to eeplace herself at number one, having a nearly 3 month old album that has not left the top two on itunes, infact it has been at number one ten out of the 15 weeks it has bern on the market. With stats like thst you do not need grammy awards, plus this year was really her off year at the grammy awards anyway. Websites like this one are the ones who ran hef out of the coubtry genre anyway. Any how it looks like the country genre is the one who is the real loser, not a single country album went platinum in 2014 and in 2015 country album sales have been even worse with the top album this year selling well under 20k per week, more like 15 k. So yeah, savingcountrymusic, you worries should be on country music album sales tanking. Not on a pop star who is selling 4x platinum etc. Get your priorities straight.
February 9, 2015 @ 1:09 pm
No doubt country music is the big loser from Taylor Swift leaving, and I commend her for being honest by finally calling her music pop instead of country and leaving the genre. If you think this article was written using the juice from sour grapes, you completely missed the point. Nobody is doubting Taylor Swift’s commercial success, but in the end, is that ever a measurable for validity of an artist? I said as much myself that only one single was up for awards and we shouldn’t read too much into it. But the irony is thick that Max Martin’s Grammy count bested Taylor’s this year.
February 11, 2015 @ 1:34 am
You’re losing me here trigger. It’s like you only give validity to awards when they suit your argument. Regardless, if you’re gonna question her award count after her move to pop you should probably wait til next year’s grammys where 1989 is eligible. Also, “Nobody is doubting Taylor Swift”™s commercial success, but in the end, is that ever a measurable for validity of an artist?” How would you measure the validity of an artist? Maybe commercial success isn’t a measure but are we going to completely overlook that 1989 is her most critically acclaimed album? Some of the best music of her career is on 1989 whether you’d like to acknowledge that or not.
February 11, 2015 @ 12:26 pm
“It”™s like you only give validity to awards when they suit your argument.”
I see it both ways with awards. The politics and senselessness of the entire exercise is enough to make one want to vomit, but to bury your head in the sand and believe they are irrelevant to either the artists or to the public is burying your head in the sand. In this context, I believe they matter because I believe they matter to Taylor Swift. She wants to win awards.
“you should probably wait til next year”™s grammys where 1989 is eligible.”
I pointed this out in the piece when I said, “Granted, it was only one single “Shake It Off” that was really eligible for anything.” We’ll see what happens next year when she’s up against Adele and a host of other monster names.
My point is Taylor Swift used to balance her commercial success with critical acclaim, and she used to crave striking that balance. I think she still does, but her move to pop has swung her too much in the commercial realm. I think she should take a serious consideration of what she wants out of music for herself and her legacy. This isn’t about criticizing Swift just to be mean, this is to question if she’s on the true path to fulfillment and happiness.
Enjoy Every Sandwich
February 9, 2015 @ 1:56 pm
Was Swift really “run out of the country genre”? I’ll grant you that she took a lot of criticism from websites, but as you point out she’s been a big commercial success; it seems highly unlikely that she (or her managers) would really care about what some websites say. I think her genre change (or, more correctly as Trigger points out, acknowledging the existing truth about what genre her music really falls into) was more about where she wanted her career to go.
February 9, 2015 @ 3:13 pm
“Any how it looks like the country genre is the one who is the real loser, not a single country album went platinum in 2014 and in 2015 country album sales have been even worse with the top album this year selling well under 20k per week, more like 15 k. So yeah, savingcountrymusic, you worries should be on country music album sales tanking. Not on a pop star who is selling 4x platinum etc. Get your priorities straight.”
Well Aldean’s album is pop so you’re right. Maybe no country album went platinum in 2014 because the powers the be are killing country music and sales by replacing it with pop, fragmenting the genre and confusing fans. Radio plays pop enough and sooner or later people get so used to it they stop buying country. I can think of at least 5 recent country solo female albums that could be platinum if country radio played those proven top selling artists as much as they played half a dozen or so men with weaker, lower selling material. There’s also streaming eating away sales. Also don’t forget Taylor started getting her big sales in country when country radio was more country, so can’t credit pop for all of it. Country is the loser not because Taylor left but because country radio went pop and doesn’t play more than 2 solo women.
February 9, 2015 @ 9:50 pm
” Any how it looks like the country genre is the one who is the real loser, not a single country album went platinum in 2014 and in 2015 country album sales have been even worse with the top album this year selling well under 20k per week, more like 15 k. So yeah, savingcountrymusic, you worries should be on country music album sales tanking. ”
Hmmmm. Let’s see . Most radio ” country” music is dreadful . Country music sales are tanking. Lets see if I can find a correlation between these two facts.
February 10, 2015 @ 8:13 am
Aldean, eric church and garth brooks all went platinum.
February 9, 2015 @ 1:11 pm
She is getting a little out of hand. I received a letter from her lawyers last week for giving someone a Swift kick in the ass. Apparently she trademarked it.
February 9, 2015 @ 1:20 pm
And don’t even think about a ‘Taylor’ made suit!
February 9, 2015 @ 5:08 pm
And to cover her bases she’ll probably be all over anything related to Jonathan Swift as well.
February 9, 2015 @ 1:12 pm
Max Martin looks like an ABBA reject.
Enjoy Every Sandwich
February 9, 2015 @ 1:50 pm
I’m not a professional musician, so I’ll need somebody to explain to me: why would an artist need to protect him/herself from the little folk that sell homemade T-shirts and the like on Etsy? Do those things really rake in that much money, that a millionaire rock star would even consider pocket change? I would think that they’d see it as free advertising, and the only issue would be badly done items that would embarrass.
I’m not trying to condemn Swift or be contrary; I’m truly curious. If there’s anything I know less about than business I don’t know what it is. Well, I know less about women but that’s a personal problem. 😉
February 9, 2015 @ 3:43 pm
Unfortunately the Lawyers tell us we have to protect everything that is ours else possibly lose it. For example if you have a piece of property leading to a beach and folks cross the property and leave a path. If you do not protest this, over time it can be claimed this is a public path, they can sue, and you will lose that part of your property.
Same with copyright on songs, trademarks, etc. All them corporate lawyers earn good livings being vigilant for the majors. So cracking down on Etsy folks is just standard corporate practice these days. Vigilance or lose it.
Enjoy Every Sandwich
February 9, 2015 @ 5:27 pm
I guess I can see that, although it’s kinda ridiculous and has me wondering if the lawyers aren’t colluding to generate business for themselves.
February 9, 2015 @ 3:55 pm
Protecting her self from the little folk on Etsy isn’t just about money, it’s about her brand. She doesn’t want others determining what photos and words are used to portray her. And she doesn’t want people buying things that they may think came from her that didn’t. Nothing wrong with that. Beyonce recently did the same.
Enjoy Every Sandwich
February 9, 2015 @ 5:26 pm
Oh, I certainly didn’t mean to imply that there was anything wrong with an artist protecting her brand. I just mean to say that chasing every single peddler seems like an enormous expenditure of resources for little or no gain. Lawyers are bloody expensive. It would seem more sensible to just step on the vendors that in some way degrade the artist.
February 9, 2015 @ 8:41 pm
The Easy deal is very complex. Etsy runs the website and collects 3.5% from everything sold. That’s a lot of money, and current law holds that they (the website and its owners) are not liable if customers/sellers post things on the website that are illegal.
Like violating trademark or copyright laws. When you sign up to be a seller on Etsy you agree to all this and take all the blame… Swift’s lawyers clearly decided this was no longer cute, but getting out of hand. They can’t sue or threaten Etsy, so they have to go after the individual sellers and put the pressure on that way. Swift already has 121 approved trademarks, so application for 37 more should be no big deal. But since we cannot let a female be successful, and we have to attack her and tear her down, this was another convenient excuse.
February 9, 2015 @ 9:01 pm
“But since we cannot let a female be successful, and we have to attack her and tear her down, this was another convenient excuse. “
A pretty unfair and presumptive assertion about what’s going on here.
February 9, 2015 @ 5:11 pm
Really, hasn’t the whole connecting to fans been a game play all along. I always felt she wasn’t authentic even when she was, that it was always for the end picture and her being on top.
This change is going to be a hard sell because unlike her other pop princess she sold her fans one image and is now giving them another. Katy Perry was always Katy Perry except for her pre-stint as a christian singer where she too realized the genre she was in wasn’t going to get her the money she wanted…
It is all to planned out, from every smile to every dance it is just too calculated and that turns me off. And, as a poet, trademarking words and phrases really irks me. Remember when Paris Hilton tried to trademark, “That’s hot!”
February 9, 2015 @ 6:11 pm
I don’t think Katy Perry left Christian music because of money. Based on the level of shock value in her songs, I think she just got fed up with the whole scene and rebelled strongly against it.
February 9, 2015 @ 8:56 pm
Sorry, but this post is an example of the pathetic lack of understanding about the basics of copyright and trademark law. When you trademark something — a work, a phrase, a color, a “look”, the application has to be made for a specific class or classes of things. Ford trademarked “F150” for the class of motor vehicles, not telecommunications equipment. Ford does not own the four characters F150. You can write it, say it, do almost anything with it, and Ford can’t interfere. They only own the four characters when it applies to trucks. If they stop selling pickups called F150’s, someone can take the rights away from them. It takes a little study, but its worth understanding how it works. If nothing else it keeps a lot of lawyers employed.
February 10, 2015 @ 2:42 am
‘Really, hasn”™t the whole connecting to fans been a game play all along. I always felt she wasn”™t authentic even when she was, that it was always for the end picture and her being on top.’
Worked for Garth .
February 10, 2015 @ 2:29 am
‘Well, Albert, in order for a giant fan club to develop in the first place, a large number of people have to deeply like the music to begin with.’
‘deeply like the music……’ ?
see below quote, Eric
‘People buy bro-country pop because radio overplays it, sort of like brainwashing, kids are the most easily influenced and brainwashed, ………..”
… radio dictates what a non-discerning listener ” likes” and buys…… radio is headquarters for the ‘giant fan club’ . Our local commercial radio station has ‘cleaned house ‘ where its former veteran DJs are concerned . Almost every radio personality has a VERY young-sounding voice replete with ‘hip’ expressions …someone the young demographic feels more connected to , no doubt .
There’s far too much money invested in ‘artists’ and breaking a song to leave these things to chance . Radio is gonna play what labels want them to play . Listeners who don’t bother to dig any deeper than the music offered up by the commercial stations geared to a younger and younger demographic become brainwashed to inferior , lowest- common -denominator fare . If they are happy with that and feel connected to it , it’s in large part because they want to like what everyone else is liking- to be part of the ‘fan club ‘ . That’s never been any different in pop music . The fact that commercial country radio has given in to this approach in recent years is just sad .
February 10, 2015 @ 12:15 pm
I do not appreciate your attempt at generational warfare and your condescension toward an entire age group. The young demographic today has far greater musical options than past generations, and they are very cognizant of it. Furthermore, with country music in particular, people can simply switch to non-country stations if they don’t like what they hear.
If radio were trying to force-feed people music that they really didn’t care much about, then you would see a sharp drop in ratings. Instead, country radio is enjoying some of its highest ratings of all time. As Applejack mentioned, bro-country may have alienated traditional country fans, but it brought in an even greater share of pop and rock refugees to country radio.
You and I might not like it, but the bro-country style enjoys net popularity despite its polarizing nature. Most young country fans simply like the mixed rock and rap sound and the party-based lyrics, without any top-down pressure from labels.
Finally, let me present the greatest evidence against bro-country starting out as some radio conspiracy. When Jason Aldean (who belongs to a small record label, by the way) came out with “Dirt Road Anthem” (the song that started the bro-country movement), it quickly reached the top in downloads and video hits but received little to no radio play for months. As Trigger wrote when the song finally reached #1 on the radio, “Apparently public demand has won out, and there”™s no reason to think we won”™t see more country rap creeping on to the airwaves hereafter.”
February 10, 2015 @ 2:00 pm
“Apparently public demand has won out, and there”™s no reason to think we won”™t see more country rap creeping on to the airwaves hereafter.”
I believe the popularity of ” country rap/hip hop ” came directly from the popularity of urban rap and hip hop ( or whatever the correct term might be …not sure how its referred to ) . I believe that the urban rap/ hip hop influence brought a newer , much younger ” fan club ” to what they THOUGHT was country music . Yes , people liked it— because they had been pre-conditioned to it by another genre ( mono -genre is a GREAT term for what’s going on , I think ). It was ‘ hip ‘ to be into hip hop . How many times have you heard someone say ” I don’t really like country music …but I like Jason Aldean’s stuff ” ( or any other non-country ” country ” artist ? Or ” I don’t usually like country music …but I LOVE Keith Urban “I believe that sums it up . They liked Jason Aldean because it WASN’T country music . It was rock ‘n rap ‘n hip hop with a cowboy hat for a group that was not into country . ” Country ” radio may have increased its ratings …but not because its Country music . Its because its rock music with a hip hop / rap and rock music had all but disappeared . The younger demographic had no point of reference if they didn’t grow up listening to REAL country music ( traditional , bluegrass , even folk ) so when the music that WAS hip to them began to creep onto country radio , it was what they already knew .
I love the mission statement of this site…. SAVING country music .Commercial Radio has no interest in what it plays if it pays the bills . They don’t care what the genre is called or whether it uses fake drums , synthesizers , no traditional country instrumentation …whether there is no substance to the lyric , who it may or may not offend , how immature and uncreative the product is . THEY ONLY CARE THAT THEY HAVE TAPPED INTO A MARKET THAT WILL CONSUME IT . If that market is a young uninitiated , somewhat impressionable casual listener …fine . I’d like to think that there is still a HUGE fan base for mature , substance-driven somewhat traditional country music . There are certainly some amazing writers , musicians and singers capable of doing it justice who deserve airplay and work .
February 10, 2015 @ 3:39 pm
New story from today about Taylor Swift suing her former guitar teacher:
February 11, 2015 @ 12:56 pm
I can’t help feeling that this young woman needs a L-O-N-G sabbatical . I’m sure she has a sincere heart and wants to do or be seen to be doing the right things . I am not a fan of her songs or her vocals however I appreciate that so many are and what she means to so many who’ve more -or-less grown up with her .Anyone who’s spent their formative years in a spotlight nearly 24 hours a day , trying to be creative , trying to keep up with the pace of writing , music lessons /mentoring/coaching , recording , touring , modelling , being interviewed non-stop , involved , as she seems to be , in all business aspects of the TAYLOR SWIFT machine and is seemingly trying to be a role model to countless young people who look up to her ( which means NOT appearing nude on a wrecking ball in a music video and other attention-getting antics ) must be under some SERIOUS pressure and stress. Someone showed me a compilation video of her dancing at various shows , concerts etc..and I could not help feeling that THAT is where she escapes …that is the eye of the hurricane for T.S. Is there anyone in the entertainment biz who is under more non-stop scrutiny than this kid ? I’d be dancing everywhere and anywhere I could ….in front of millions or alone in my house if it helped me ” shake it off ” . I’m gonna hope the dancing isn’t just another attention-getting marketing aspect of the TS Machine and go with my gut . At some point you gotta dance like no one’s watching .
February 11, 2015 @ 3:54 pm
Only recently I have been listening to Taylor Swift’s music (love Jesse Winchester’s Just So Much song which proves you do not need a hook for a great song). I do like that Mean song which is actually better than the hooks she has been getting from the Swedish guys. Now I am Swedish by background so don’t get me wrong. But Taylor Swift has something as a songwriter and as far as her voice well she has that quality that Irving Berlin liked in Fred Astaire’s voice.
February 11, 2015 @ 7:55 pm
The Max Martin and Shellback songs are by far the worst songs in Taylor’s career. If you take a listen to the songs from her first 3 albums, you will be stunned at how different the music is.
February 11, 2015 @ 11:16 pm
Eric, I think the change in her persona is calculated. Around the time of her first 3 albums, she was criticized for her childlike image, for playing the victim, and for being “anti feminist”. I see her new persona as an attempt to change those perceptions. For example, the aggressive business tactics could fit the story line of “feminism, done her way”. And as much as I dislike her new sound and her new persona, I gotta say it’s working commercially.
I think her Taylor Swift 1.0 persona would have faced big challenges as her fans finished high school, went to college, and became more sexually liberated and culturally liberal. She could have kept writing lyrics that read like a 15 year old girl’s diary, with the curly hair and the fairy princess outfits, but she would not have been as successful in the pop world as she is today. And in a few years most of her young female fans would outgrow her and lose interest (except for the occasional evangelical chick in small town America who still wants to pretend that she’s sweet and innocent when she’s 30).
February 12, 2015 @ 12:45 pm
Well, she could have also followed the path of Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert and stayed in country music with a more hard-edged lyrical style. Given the dearth of female performers in country, she would have enjoyed a rather significant near-monopoly market.
Or if she decided to go pop anyway, she could have at least followed Lorde’s path of substantive lyrics instead of putting out deliberately inane lines like “Haters gonna hate hate hate” or “Oh my God, look at that face, you look like my next mistake”.
February 12, 2015 @ 1:26 pm
Agreed . TS had far better creative options ( if not financial options ) open to her than the path she chose . I think her biggest issue with staying in ” Country ” was an obvious one .She was way more pop than country and , not to beat this issue into the ground the ground, she does not have the emotive country vocal chops that the two ladies you’ve mentioned do – or that most other women with successful careers singing country music do ..(Rimes , Womack , Sara Evans ,Dolly …and on and on ). She ‘gets by’ singing the kind of pop-oriented ” country” that she sang …but seriously ..anyone who’d consider her a ” country vocalist” has no idea what a great country vocalist sounds like . I think TS rode the ‘country’ thing as far as possible without becoming comical . And if the lyric you quote above is any indication of where she wants to be creatively , it doesn’t really mater what kind of voice sings it .
February 12, 2015 @ 10:43 pm
Eric, you need to consider who her audience is. Your typical early Taylor Swift fan, the innocent girl with the insecurity complex in junior high school who bought her first two albums in 2007-2009, is now one of those sorority types in college. Now she likes to wear trendy clothes, go to parties, and dance to a catchy pop beat. She’s probably not a deep thinker. So Taylor’s new style suits her just fine.
February 13, 2015 @ 1:45 am
Taylor’s early fan base includes a vast number of country fans, since she started out exclusively on the country format. Those are the people who feel alienated by her current music.
If you go to the Youtube comments for “Tim McGraw”, for example, you will see quite a few commenters mentioning how they “miss the early Taylor Swift”.
February 14, 2015 @ 3:26 pm
Well then, if Tim McGraw is a 2006 pop song instead of a 2006 country song, then it will play on pop radio in 2006 just fine. I mean, Vevo is very lucky since Vevo called this 2006 country song, pop. Ditto, Last.fm. So we should be happy to see this country song to be considered pop on Vevo and Last.fm. Heck, even Highway Don’t Care is pop on Vevo. If all Taylor Swift’s country songs like Mean are pop, not country, than her country songs like Ours plays fine on pop radio. At least Vevo is smart enough to put pop genre on all Taylor Swift songs. So you should be happy to thank Vevo for that.
July 29, 2018 @ 10:18 pm
Eric, I’m sorry for replying to such an old comment, but I must clarify what you have seen. Anyone who types that they ‘miss the old Taylor’ still listens to her music. They are just writing it for nostalgia purposes. Some genuinely prefer old Taylor, but even those still listen to new Taylor. I’m sure that some fans have felt alienated. For instance, my older sister. However, the small percentage she lost was more than made up by the amount of fans that she gained.
February 14, 2015 @ 10:56 pm
I don’t know why any of you would bother about Taylor Swift at this point. She already moved to Pop, so anything you would want to say about her and ‘Country’ should be moot now. You were pushing her to go Pop and she did. Now, do you really have to try and interfere and critique everything she does? She’s no longer country, nor does she endorse country in any way so why would any of you care to still try and tear her down? Do you really care about those small retailers? I don’t think so. Stop putting her on this website for clickbait. Stop saying that you aren’t doing this to be mean. You’re doing this for the profit as well so why are you being hypocritical? Stick to talking about Country and the Country Artists that deserve more endorsement instead of sticking up your nose to businesses that don’t affect your main topic.
February 14, 2015 @ 11:38 pm
Somebody didn’t read the article. This topic has just as much to do with country music as anything else I have written. Where goes Taylor, so goes the music. And if you think I wrote this for “clickbait” you’ll be happy to hear it got middling traffic at best.
February 18, 2015 @ 9:23 pm
I think Taylor Swift’s intelligence was REALLY underrated by everyone.
She has calculated every freakin single move she’d do until superstardom. Now, she wants more. Swift actually sees somethin’ above the top. In 2014, she almost outsold Britney Spears’ album, which was released when physical sales really mattered. I don’t think she cares about her fans. She really cares about herself, her pocket.
I mean, a girl with a meh voice is more than a superstar, she’s unstoppable. She knew what she had to do, and did it. And will do even more. She drank the waters of country music until it was sour to herself. She had Country in her hands while doing her ‘i’m so naive’ smile. She’s impressive.
First of all, she knows how to control her brand image and make it symmetric to brand identity. She chooses her friends and enemies, always being the main character. I see her friendship with Kellie Pickler right now as some strategy to put the latter down. She could do it, but Pickler was extremely smart by giving no sh*ts to great numbers or superstardom. Please, Kellie is way more talented than Swift and is underrated. But let’s remember her career started with a contract she had to sign, otherwise she could be back to the waitressing days. It all became an issue when Kellie was on ‘Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?’ and tried to do comedy as the blonde bimbo everyone loved and was targeted as a dumb person. Then, she needed to chart high. What’s her highest charted single? Co-written with whom? What happened after? Kellie and Taylor started neck-to-neck with the latter winning, until Taylor surpassed her.
OK, I’ve just talked a lot about Pickler, but I really cannot understand why Kellie Pickler isn’t everywhere. It’s a shame.
Taylor Swift was also friends with Katy Perry (now, they have a “Bad Blood” bool started by Miss Swift herself – but who’s the highest POPstar at the moment and what Swift wants?). Where’s Gloriana? Where IS TIM MCGRAW [in Taylor’s life]? Where’s Miley Cyrus (they sang together at Grammys and were BFFs, now they hate themselves).
Soon, we’ll ask: Where’s Selena Gomez? Where’s Lorde? WHERE IS SCOTT BORCHETTA [HAHA]?
Who will be Taylor Swift’s next puppet?
She’s a genius. A nightmare dressed just like a day-dream.
February 21, 2015 @ 11:27 am
Machiavelli would wear a sparkly dress and act sweet and innocent if that what it takes to get what she wants. Just as the “coat and tie radicals” that Saul Alinksy describes would put on business suits and play along with the establishment in order to eventually destroy it.
February 18, 2015 @ 9:33 pm
please, Trigger, delete my first comment. I made i mistake.
February 18, 2015 @ 9:33 pm
Be very afraid of Miss Taylor Swift. She’s way more smart than everyone thinks.
February 21, 2015 @ 11:34 am
You know, in some ways she seems more like a politician than a musician. In particular, her carefully crafted public image, her speaking style in interviews, and her ability to relate to huge numbers of fans. She has an identity group, and she tries to express what she thinks are their emotions. She has become the public and pop cultural representative of young white females.
February 21, 2015 @ 1:24 pm
I thought this article was interesting.
March 29, 2016 @ 4:23 pm
Ironic you say that. 1) She is very savvy about not treating half of her audience with disdain by putting any preference for politicians (though like BRad Paisley she has been willing to mix in with the present administration as she sees benefits to being in their good graces if she wants to be able to help her industry); 2) A lot of her back story now is not coming from her directly. We got her back story when she herself did not know where she was headed. Those early interviews were simply not capable of being viewed as highly contrived. She simply was not savvy enough to have pulled it off or to have fooled people, cynical and highly savvy people, so well.
March 29, 2016 @ 4:20 pm
Nope, I’ve always known how smart she is, but unlike you, I think she is there to be someone like Bob Hope was in times when he was needed.
He too was a business genius, but had a heart of gold.