WE LOVE YOUR SONGS BLOG
What Artists Can Learn from Taylor Swift
Picture by Eva Rinaldi from Sydney Australia (Taylor Swift Speak Now Tour Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Highest selling digital artist of all time, Taylor Swift continues to make chart topping music and stay in the headlines. When it’s said and done, she might very well be considered the most successful artist of the 2010s. It’s only recently that she’s starting to attract negative reviews and tire out her youthful personality. But whether you love her or hate her, it’s undeniable that she’s done well for herself from both a musical and public relations perspective. Here’s a few takeaways of things up-and-coming artists can learn from the Reading, PA native.
Write Your Own Music
Artists in the Top 40 have always relied on others to do most of their writing. Even Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra recorded tunes that were written by others. Taylor Swift is in the minority for this genre. It’s widely known that the then 18-year-old wrote all the music and lyrics to her debut album in 2006 and she’s continued that trend throughout her career. I’ve found that many music fans, even if they do not care for her style, still appreciate her talent because of this. Singer/songwriters are viewed in a special way since being able to create music and perform takes so much more skill.
It’s Okay to be Innocent
Sex sells. Craziness sells. Being loud and abrasive sells. We know this. But as popular as Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Nicki Minaj are, Taylor Swift is just as popular without any of that. Instead, she’s stayed true to herself and her values. She’s taken that innocent girl appeal and used it to build her personal brand by developing a look and writing music that is uplifting, wholesome and cute. It doesn’t appeal to everyone but it’s obviously resonated with enough fans since she continues to sell records.
You Must Musically Adapt
But on the same note as above, Swift is now 23-years-old and her music still reflects storylines that appeal to young teens. Four albums deep, millions sold, people are beginning to tire and complain about her themes. Lyrics about high school dates do not work for her audience anymore since they are growing up too. She needs her music to change along with her age and her experiences. Your music should adapt too.
Appeal to the Masses
We’ve often seen that the most successful artists are the ones that span genres. For instance, Outkast emerged in 1994 with a unique southern style with hardcore rhymes and a progressive and cunning sound. It was nearly ten years later though when they released “Hey Ya,” the first hip-hop song to top the adult contemporary charts. This opened the doors for a whole new audience to appreciate their music, launching them to mainstream status. Taylor Swift has played a similar card. Her soft rock style with catchy hooks attract attention from many different types of music lovers. She’s played on country, rock and top 40 stations because of this hybrid approach and has built a very diverse audience.
Acoustic Never Gets Old
I’ve been to many heavy rock shows and even the most fierce and hardcore mosh pitters absolutely love when the lead singer turns the lights down and grabs his acoustic guitar. Acoustic guitar in rock is like the piano in orchestra. It can live on its own and fans will eat it up. It’s a beautiful thing too when songs can be converted to acoustic to give it a whole new look and feel. Taylor Swift does this well. The acoustics have helped brand her with a unique style in the industry and she does it with finesse, which is a huge part of her success. Plus, during live performances she does acoustic covers which make her fans go wild.
Being such a young age, be prepared to hear many more years of Taylor Swift music. Learn from both her successes and failures and capitalize to launch your own career to a new level.
About the author
Thomas J. Armitage is a marketing communications professional from Central NY. A music fanatic, he reviews songs/albums and follows industry news in a variety of genres. He has a special interest in hardcore rap and modern punk. In addition to DJ’ing under the alias White Noyes, he manages a local hip hop artist and is a freelance blogger. Connect with him @thomasjarmitage or visit thomasjarmitage.com.
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