I never expected when I woke up this morning that I’d be saying the words “Taylor Swift has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, and it’s quite good”. But lo and behold, those words were uttered, and it is fairly insightful. So what does the princess of pop have to say about the future of music as piracy skyrockets?
Read This: Your Music Is Worthless, But That’s Ok
Swift’s lyrics read like doodles in the margins of a high schooler’s journal, but her op-ed features insightful yet romanticised opinions about how she ensures that her audience will continue to buy her music. It’s all about surprising people who come to concerts:
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?
In the YouTube generation we live in, I walked out onstage every night of my stadium tour last year knowing almost every fan had already seen the show online. To continue to show them something they had never seen before, I brought out dozens of special guest performers to sing their hits with me. My generation was raised being able to flip channels if we got bored, and we read the last page of the book when we got impatient. We want to be caught off guard, delighted, left in awe. 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.
Taylor Swift is one of a number of Sony artists who have kept their music away from music streaming services for prolonged periods of time after release. Her 2012 album RED was nowhere to be found on Spotify for almost a year after its release, forcing consumers to buy the album from iTunes and Google Play. Arguably that yields higher revenues for artists, something Swift says should continue:
In recent years, you’ve probably read the articles about major recording artists who have decided to practically give their music away, for this promotion or that exclusive deal. My hope for the future, not just in the music industry, but in every young girl I meet…is that they all realize their worth and ask for it.
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.
She also adds that the way fans are engaging with her is changing. Nobody wants an autograph anymore:
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 may followers you have on Instagram.”
Check out the full op-ed for more romantic quotes about the future of music.
Image: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images