TIME Music

Taylor Swift on How to Save the Music Industry: Treat It Like a Love Affair

Swift says she's "one of the few living souls" who believes the music industry is "just coming alive"

Taylor Swift, everyone’s favorite middle-aged woman trapped in a 24-year-old’s body, made her journalistic debut for the Wall Street Journal on Monday afternoon to share her thoughts about the music industry, which she says still has a lively pulse despite plummeting CD sales and the rise of low-paying digital streaming services, thank you very much.

“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, and the financial value that artists (and their labels) place on their music when it goes out into the marketplace,” she writes. “I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”

Swift also takes time to point out other changes she sees in the music industry, like the pressure to have a social media following as a new artist (“In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans—not the other way around”) and the vanishing distinctions between genres (“The only real risk is being too afraid to take a risk at all”).

She comments on the nature of celebrity, too, noting how the spotlight has only gotten more intense and more relentless, but the real crux of her piece is savvy business advice. If you want to sell millions of copies like she has, treat your career like a romantic partner — spice things up now and then to keep things interesting, but don’t go for cheap shock value. She writes:

“The way I see it, fans view music the way they view their relationships. Some music is just for fun, a passing fling (the ones they dance to at clubs and parties for a month while the song is a huge radio hit, that they will soon forget they ever danced to). Some songs and albums represent seasons of our lives, like relationships that we hold dear in our memories but had their time and place in the past. However, some artists will be like finding ‘the one.’ … I believe couples can stay in love for decades if they just continue to surprise each other, so why can’t this love affair exist between an artist and their fans?”

T-Swift makes some good points throughout the essay, but her final words are a bit of a puzzler: “And I’d also like a nice garden.” Don’t we all, Taylor — don’t we all.

[WSJ]

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