Taylor Swift Writes Essay On Future Of Music: Fans And Artists Need “Love Affair”
Taylor Swift has published an op-ed on the future of music for The Wall Street Journal, arguing that contrary to popular belief, “the music industry is not dying… it’s just coming alive.”
Describing herself as an “enthusiastic optimist,” the performer disagrees with those who “predict the downfall of music sales and the irrelevancy of the album as an economic entity.”
The key, says Swift, is to keep valuing art.
Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.
And where does that value come from?
Swift points out that there’s a trend toward buying fewer albums, but being loyal to the artists who move you emotionally.
There are always going to be those artists who break through on an emotional level and end up in people’s lives forever. 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.
And the key for artists, says Swift, is to form an almost mystical bond with fans.
She talks about needing to provide admirers “with the element of surprise,” in live shows and other forums.
“No, I did not say ‘shock'; I said ‘surprise,'” notes Swift. “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?”
Speaking of the importance of social media and building a following before you break through, Swift declares, “In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans — not the other way around.”
She also reflects on the breaking down of boundaries between genres.
“Pop sounds like hip hop; country sounds like rock; rock sounds like soul; and folk sounds like country — and to me, that’s incredible progress,” explains Swift. “I want to make music that reflects all of my influences, and I think that in the coming decades the idea of genres will become less of a career-defining path and more of an organizational tool.”
As for interacting with fans, the singer notes that autographs have become “obsolete” in recent years — kids now only care about getting selfies.
I predict that some things will never change. There will always be an increasing fixation on the private lives of musicians, especially the younger ones. Artists who were at their commercial peak in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s tell me, “It was never this crazy for us back then!” And I suspect I’ll be saying that same thing to younger artists someday (God help them). There continues to be a bad girl vs. good girl/clean-cut vs. sexy debate, and for as long as those labels exist, I just hope there will be contenders on both sides. Everyone needs someone to relate to.
What do you think about what Swift has to say?