6 Things We Learned About Taylor Swift and the Music Industry

the future of music

Taylor Swift shared her dreams and ideas about the music industry for the Wall Street Journal.

Jul 9, 2014 | 06:58 PM

Taylor Swift penned an insightful and opinionated music industry op-ed for the Wall Street Journal’s “The Future of Everything” package, which celebates the publication’s 125th anniversary on July 8 by including insightful essays by pop-culture figures. Who better, we think, to discuss the complexities of the music industry than an insider like Swift?

The Grammy-award winning “Red” singer offered some answers and prompted some serious questions about the current and future aspects of the music industry. Here are six things we learned about the talented young musician and the future of music:

1. She’s an optimist who hopes for the best.

She opens the essay by explaining that she has a positive outlook on the music world, which we think is an excellent way of tackling the ins and outs of the industry.

“[I’m] one of the few living souls in the music industry who still believes that the music industry is not dying…it's just coming alive.”

2. She believes that an album’s value is determined by the amount of heart put into it.

“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. Piracy, file sharing, and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently.”

She went on to say that she hopes musicians will realize their worth.

“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.”

3. She believes in the lasting power of music, and its effects on people’s lives.

“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.”

4. She wants to sustain a connection with her fans...forever!

“I think forming a bond with fans in the future will come in the form of constantly providing them with the element of surprise. No, I did not say "shock"; I said "surprise." 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?...I hope the next generation's artists will continue to think of inventive ways of keeping their audiences on their toes, as challenging as that might be.”

5. She has a place in heart for days gone by.

“There are a few things I have witnessed becoming obsolete in the past few years, the first being autographs. I haven't been asked for an autograph since the invention of the iPhone with a front-facing camera. The only memento "kids these days" want is a selfie. It's part of the new currency, which seems to be "how many followers you have on Instagram."

We miss autographs, too!

6. She’s thinks taking risks is important.

Swift explains that the blending of genres is a good thing—not something that should be avoided, which explains her music’s touch of pop, country, and folk.

“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…In this moment in music, stepping out of your comfort zone is rewarded, and sonic evolution is not only accepted…it is celebrated. The only real risk is being too afraid to take a risk at all.”

We love Swift’s boldness and honesty. What do you think about the evolution of the music industry?

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