Taylor Swift is branching out, into music industry musings. The charismatic and gorgeous American singer songwriter isn’t exactly ditching all that ‘kissin’ in the rain and pangs of young love stuff, just yet. But she does have some very acute observations about the pop music industry and culture. The country star has written a prose piece for The Wall Street Journal no less. The title of this essay is ‘the Future of Music Is a Love Story’. You can take the girl out of the country music setting but….
Taylor’s observations are to be found in chats and Tweets all over the Internet. She puts all her song writing skills, into telling music fans that they need to learn how to pay for the music they consume. She is optimistic, if a little naive, saying that the music industry is definitely NOT dying from a million pirate downloads. She is not critical or abusive of music fans who go in for taking the latest pop offerings for free, but she does make a plea for fans to put some dollars back into the poor old industry coffers.
Taylor makes several other keen insights around music selling and what it’s like to be a pop star. It has to be said that Swift does not paint an attractive lifestyle picture of pop stardom in our time. In particular she has some doom-laden stuff about the relationship between fans, their idols and the Internet. For example, she knows of two female actors who were vying for the leading role in a current film. The director didn’t make a choice based on who would be best for the role, rather it came down to which had the most followers on twitter. Taylor extrapolates this to a kind of music business ‘Catch 22’. Singers won’t be able to get a recording contract until they have a fan base already. But how are they to get a fan base without a recording deal? Gosh it’s a hard life at the top.
Taylor Swift takes this even further when it comes to Instagram. According to her this is the ‘new currency’. Maybe she has more followers on this than she does on Twitter? I wonder how often she can be seen slaving over a hot keyboard? Or does she give pride of place in her entourage (just behind her hairdresser) to a well-paid geek?
Miss Swift also thinks the autograph is dead and the ubiquitous smart phone camera has killed it. No surprise there then. Who wouldn’t prefer an identifiable picture of themselves arm in arm with Taylor, to an illegible scrawl on a sweaty T shirt. Autographs can be easily faked and difficult to authenticate. Although with airbrushing software these days, many a computer savvy teen could have a large collection of pop star plus selfies. Taylor, count your blessing darlin’, they could press you for both!
YouTube comes in for a side swipe from Miss Swift too. Or is she taking aim at the fans in a mildly disingenuous way. For her fans no longer want to be amazed by the originality and surprise element of her stage shows. When she struts her stuff at each new tour venue she knows that the audience has already seen the videos of her tour, maybe many times.
The most anodyne of Taylor’s observations is that female artistes are either labelled sluts or nice girls. Sexism in the music business is rife and there is never a shortage of both angels and whores to fill pages of the fanzines. No change there then. Maybe she could write a new song about it.