Taylor Swift is one of those you-hate-to-love-her artists (or a you-love-to-love-her artists, in the case of my roommate Thomas whose only bedroom decoration is her Red album poster). Whether you want to admit it or not, you have sung along to the lighthearted pop songs “Love Story” and “22″ or related to her revenge tracks “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “Picture to Burn,” but now the country singing sensation is sounding off in a very different way.
This week Swift penned an op-ed on the future of music for The Wall Street Journal. In it she acknowledges how technology has completely revolutionized the game, and rather than fight the changing tides, she recommends that artists embrace them and look forward to new challenges.
According to the article, when calculating music-industry revenue, digital downloads have jumped from being virtually nonexistent in 2003 to comprising 40% of the revenue last year (though the total revenue has gone down more than 50% due to “piracy, file sharing and streaming”). With numbers like that, the model of how musicians market their music and interact with their fans is changing faster than many artists can keep up.
Swift argues that while many predict physical albums will become a thing of the past, the value of an album will be “based on the amount of heart and soul an artist has bled into a body of work.” Although she talks a bit in circles regarding this topic, Swift makes a terrific point that because consumers are only buying albums that “hit them like an arrow through the heart,” it should “challenge and motivate [artists]” to create quality, moving music in a overpopulated industry.
While Swift makes some optimistic predictions for the future of music, I most interested in hearing an artist’s perspective on how our ever-changing generation affects the way musicians manage their careers and interact with their fans now. The multi-platinum, GRAMMY-winning artist discusses how fans have stopped asking for autographs and now take iPhone photos or how audiences have already seen her concert online by the time they see it live in their hometowns.
Rather than lamenting the changes and adjustments artists must make, Swift announces her willingness to meet these new obstacles (including the “wild, unpredictable” blending of musical genres) head-on in fresh, innovative ways. She promises to take risks and encourages other artists to do the same.
Check out Taylor Swift’s Wall Street Journal article and let us know if you agree or disagree with Swifty’s predictions for the future of the music industry!