Taylor Swift: No One’s Had My Career

Truth rating: 10
Taylor Swift Time Magazine

By Daniel Gates

Taylor Swift Time Magazine


Taylor Swift talks to Time about abandoning Spotify, having no real peers and dealing with absurd levels of scrutiny as the singer’s blockbuster album 1989 cements her status as the biggest force in music.

In terms of her much-debated decision to leave the streaming service, Swift says, “I tried it and I didn’t like the way it felt. I think there should be an inherent value placed on art. I didn’t see that happening, perception-wise, when I put my music on Spotify.”

She continues, “Everybody’s complaining about how music sales are shrinking, but nobody’s changing the way they’re doing things. They keep running towards streaming, which is, for the most part, what has been shrinking the numbers of paid album sales.” Swift later declares, “I think that people should feel that there is a value to what musicians have created, and that’s that.”

The singer talks about the doubts everyone around her had as she prepared her new album. She tells Time, “When I wanted to call the album 1989, people on the team questioned that. Every single element of this album has been called into question, and I’ve had to say ‘No, this is how we’re doing it.’ And the fact that we came out and did the kind of numbers we did in the first week — you have no idea how relieved I was, because it was all on me if this didn’t work. It was a little hard to sleep the night of the album release.”

Swift has an interesting take on her songwriting, and just how catchy she wants her tracks to be. “I want people to have songs that I write stuck in their heads, but I don’t want it to absolutely perturb them that they have the song stuck in their head,” she explains. “I’m talking about songs that sound like they were cooked up in a lab. Like, anything that makes you think there are eight songwriters on this.”

She sees herself as a songwriter first and celebrity second, and there’s a reason for that. “I see a lot of celebrities build up these emotional walls around themselves, where they let no one in, and that’s what makes them feel very lonely at the top,” explains Swift. “I just keep writing songs. And I kind of stay open to feeling humiliated and rejected, because before being a quote-unquote celebrity, I’m a songwriter. Being a celebrity means you lock your doors and close your windows and don’t let people in. Being a songwriter means you’re very attuned to your own intuition and your own feelings even if they hurt.”

What about role models? Whose path does Swift try to emulate? “I can’t find anyone, really, who’s had the same career trajectory as mine,” she says. “So when I’m in an optimistic place I hope that my life won’t match anyone else’s life trajectory, either, going forward.”

Swift does have some women she admires. “I do have female role models in the sense of actresses like Mariska Hargitay. I think she has a beautiful life, and an incredible career, and I think she’s built that for herself… and Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. I really love her business, and how she sticks to who she is, and how people relate to it.”

She explains, “In other industries, I have female role models. I just struggle to find a woman in music who hasn’t been completely picked apart by the media, or scrutinized and criticized for aging, or criticized for fighting aging — it just seems to be much more difficult to be a woman in music and to grow older.”

When it comes to thinking about her legacy, Swift doesn’t want to burden her family with regrettable or controversial behavior. She explains, “I’m sure there will be things that my grandkids make fun of me for no matter what, but I’d really rather it be, ‘Look how awkward your dancing was in the ‘Shake It Off’ video! You look so weird, Grandma!’ rather than ‘Grandma, is that your nipple?'”

“I don’t make it as much about the millions of people who would be disappointed if I were to have some sort of meltdown or scandal or something that made everyone feel like my character wasn’t what they thought it was. I think more about the people in my life that would disappoint: my mom, my dad, my kids, if I ever have them,” says Swift. “And that way it’s not as much pressure as thinking about the millions of little minds that you must be shaping. I’m trying to live my life with some sort of thoughtfulness put into my actions, but it’s not because I feel like I’m the president of the International Babysitters Club.”

It annoys her that women are held to a different standard than men. “It’s a little discouraging that females have to work so much harder to prove that they do their own things,” says Swift. “I see Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea having to prove that they write their own raps or their own lyrics, and it makes me sad, because they shouldn’t have to justify it.”

She’s similarly frustrated by a culture that seems bent on pitting women against each other in terms of their looks, their sexiness, etc. Swift says, “If we continue to show young girls that they are being compared to other girls, we’re doing ourselves a huge disservice as a society. I surround myself with smart, beautiful, passionate, driven, ambitious women. Other women who are killing it should motivate you, thrill you, challenge you and inspire you rather than threaten you and make you feel like you’re immediately being compared to them. The only thing I compare myself to is me, two years ago, or me one year ago.”

The constant attention on her every move affects how Swift behaves in her everyday life. “It’s honestly like, if I’m in the mood to be held accountable for every single article of clothing on my body, and whether it matches, and if it clashes, and if it’s on trend, then I go out,” she tells the magazine. “But if I’m not interested in undergoing that kind of debate and conversation — regarding how I’m walking, whether I look tired, how my makeup is right, what’s that mark on my knee, did you hurt yourself? — I just don’t go out. I try to evaluate whether I’m in the right emotional space to deal with that, and if I’m not, then I just stay in. And I’m perfectly happy staying in.”

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