Monday, January 5, 2015

Taylor's slip on the stairs New Years eve. Best video.

The media would have you believe that she actually fell and some would have it as embarrassing. In most of the videos, the actual incident was blocked by someone holding a tablet. The one below shows the entire incident including afterwards. How many of us haven't slipped on the stairs?

No contest: Disney's 'Frozen' vs Taylor's '1989'

Reading the headlines - one would think that Taylor's 1989 just edged out Disney's Frozen in 2014 sales. But here is what is important and it makes Taylor's achievement all that much more significant. Frozen was released in late 2013, but 1989 was released in late October 2014.

The Nielsen's 2014 tracking year ran from Dec. 30, 2013 through Dec. 28, 2014. Frozen in the 12 months sold 3.53 million and 1989 in 9 weeks sold 3.66 million. Just what do you think the total for 1989 might have been if the tracking had been for 12 months?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Taylor Swift: "Got nothing in my brain That's what people say"

That is what people seem to say, but it has always been my contention (and proved correct) that not only is she in control of her career - she does it right. Today as we read about her, there has been a growing recognition, however reluctant, after all she is a girl, of not only her singing, songwriting, performing talents, but also of her business acumen.

There is something unique about a Taylor Swift. Without denigrating other singers, pop or otherwise, it is clear that unlike most she is in charge of her career; it is not her 'managers' nor her label. It is she that leads her 13 Management company. And, she made the decision a long time ago to be responsible for her life's work. And a recent article Taylor Swift on 1989, Spotify, Her Next Tour and Female Role Models makes it abundantly clear that she is in charge (not Borchetta).
"With 1989, I was really putting my neck on the line, because I was the one saying I need to change directions musically. And my label and management were the ones saying 'Are you sure, are you positive? This is risky.' And I was the one who had to come back every time and say, 'No, this is what we’re doing.'”
The Spotify decision [See Taylor Swift and Big Machine Are the Music Industry (try and ignore Borchetta's hubris, try the Time interview] brought attention to the fact that it is Taylor that makes the decisions. The stories (most) rightly state 'Taylor this,' 'Taylor that,' not 'her label this,' 'her label that.' Although, there is a tendency for Scott Borchetta to attempt to take credit where credit is not due.

And because of the success of "1989" there are more 'business' articles about her rather than the ever ongoing tabloid saga of Taylor and X, although X has been mostly Harry Styles. Imogene Heap who collaborated with Taylor on "Clean" illustrated the stereotypical judgment of Taylor:
"I have to be honest here and say I had ever so slightly not done my homework on Taylor Swift but had done what I HATE others do of me, which is to pre-judge a person based on assumptions. I had assumed Taylor didn’t write too much of her own music (as is the case with many young, extremely successful artists these days who sell shed loads of records) and was likely puppeteered by an ageing gang of music executives, working to formulas and spread sheets." [Imogene Heap blog post]
But she goes on to say:
"How wrong was I? Totally clued up from a very young age (I had no idea what a publishing label even was at the age of 14 never mind moving my family to nashville so I could pursue a song-writing career!), hyper driven, hard working, really talented and a genuine lovely soul, with a few more boy troubles than she most but you can’t get it all right all the time!" [Imogene Heap blog post]
But there are others that have known the real Taylor for a long time. Lisa Snedeker in her Huffington Post article Taylor Swift Left Nashville a Long Time Ago Folks knew Taylor back in 2007 when she interviewed Taylor. Taylor was paying her dues at age 17 opening for opening for George Strait and Ronnie Milsap. You are not going to get any more country than these two artists. Lisa sets the stage for the recap of her interview with Taylor:
"I found her to be smart, open, honest, funny and without pretense. I was impressed then with what a savvy, no-nonsense business woman she appeared to be at such a young age. She literally had me at "hello." When I introduced myself, she ran up to me and gave me a big hug like I was her long, lost friend. I was blown away by how genuine she was then and I believe still is. I gave her a copy of the front page story I had written about her and had her sign one for me. I told her I had done the same thing for Toby Keith following a performance at the Berrien County Fair in Michigan, before he was a household name. I predicted in 2007 that she was going to be even bigger than Keith, a comment that was met with a genuine laugh from Swift."
Lisa reprints her full interview (Taylor is 17) in the article. A couple excerpts:
Taylor at 17: "What sets Swift apart is her songwriting ability. Swift wrote or co-wrote every one of the 11 songs on her self-titled debut album that was released in October including her first hit single, "Tim McGraw," which is which is currently No. 9 on the Billboard hot country songs chart."
Taylor: "I want to be edgier. Speaking my mind has been what I was raised for. If you are allowed to write your own songs, why not say something that is completely honest?"
Work ethic: "when she got the call to tour with Strait and Milsap from January through March. Swift says she didn't hesitate to say yes. 'I want to be working as much as I can. I give myself five seconds a day to think, 'Oh my God, this is really happening.' And then I spend the rest of the time trying to make it last.'"
"In discussing a prank played on Taylor: Another time, she had a 5-minute meet-and-greet with fans before the show and when she arrived, 500 people were waiting for her. 'I signed every single autograph after the show,' she said laughing." Already a professional at 17.
Lisa quoting Taylor's well known song co-writer Liz Rose:
"Liz Rose, who co-wrote seven of the songs, told The Associated Press that Swift was born to be a singer-songwriter. 'She's a genius, coming in with ideas and a melody. She'd come in and write with this old lady, and I never second-guessed her. I respect her a lot.'" [See my post Co-writers - a weakness or strength].
Finally, quoting Taylor expressing who she is:
"I really try to be the same person that I am on stage as I am off. I don't do things differently. I don't try to censor who I am. I think what's important is to just be who you are."
Taylor really hasn't changed much - maybe worker harder. Maybe she spends  little more than five seconds a day to think, 'Oh my God, this is really happening.' 

And still today Taylor's work product control continues in all aspects of her profession. For example, the  "Blank Space" video. The director Kahn:
It [the concept (aka treatment)] all came from her. She gave me a call and had a very thorough idea of what she wanted, It was basically following the lyrics, in terms of specific moments and scenes.” [See my post The treatment - "Everything Has Changed"]
It is real easy to go on an n about Taylor. There is no singer-songwriter that is as involved in their career as Taylor Swift. I don't know of any other artist that would have Forbes, Wall Street JournalTime, Billboard, Rolling Stone, and BloombergBusiness Week writing about them. And they are writing about her success and business know how - not about her naked pictures, boyfriends, drunken behavior, etc.

Taylor through her music, performances and conduct gives the rest of the listening public an opportunity to hear and see a professional that gives us a much needed alternative. We (and even as a family) listen and watch because she is so damn good - yes, even excellent.

Thank you Taylor Swift.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Good advice: Take a lesson in personal branding from Taylor Swift

The Daily Northwestern : Burg: Take a lesson in personal branding from Taylor Swift: "These days especially it’s all about creating an image of yourself as a neat little package bursting with personality, no matter the career path. Competing with hot young professionals means you not only have to know what’s going on in your chosen job arena, but also you have to be charmingly unique, personable and, preferably, a proficient yet noncontroversial source of social media output. In a world where the line separating real life and internet life is increasingly blurred, you are a brand. Cultivate your brand. Learn it, live it, love it. Be #onbrand. And if you need a model to study the ways of successful, subtle but relentless branding, look no further than Taylor Swift. I’m being serious."

The Daily Northwestern is Northwestern college newspaper situated in Evanston, Ill. The article accurately depicts Taylor's marketing skills. The author struggles though to give Taylor credit. It is like she wants to - but can't come to the realization that it is Taylor that is the leader of the pack. 
"The pop-country sensation has slowly shed the “-country” portion of her appellation in a frankly brilliant series of secretly calculated moves over the span of a few years. If we’re being real, TSwift’s publicity team is undoubtedly the force behind the actual logistics of this image shift. But the lead-up to the late-October release of the singer’s newest album, “1989,” has been characterized by an impressive deluge of social media interaction that appears to be mostly the handiwork of Swift herself (a result of careful coaching by her team, I’m sure, but shhh)."
Maybe I want to give Taylor too much credit for her success. I don't think so. If one reads the articles and watch the videos that have documented her career one sees that it has been Taylor in charge.

She is the driving force in the brand Taylor Swift. Of course she has a business team - 13 Management. But it is her team, she is the CEO and she is the creative genius that makes Taylor Taylor.

Which video is best: "Shake it Off" or "Riptide?"

While waiting for her new song to be dropped on Tuesday, I believe, I became completely enamored with "Shake it Off." But, her recent cover of "Riptide" on BBC 1 is terrific video displaying genuine emotion.Push comes to shove - its "Riptide."