Big Machine, headed by Scott Borchetta, is country. Everyone of the label artists, except Taylor, is a country performer without any quibbles about 'country.' content. Big Machine is located in Nashville - capital of country music. Borchetta has zero expertise in pop music.
Of course it is arguable that Taylor was not part of the Big Machine label. That is, Taylor has operated as an independent subsidiary of Big Machine. Maybe the byline "A Big Machine of Her Own" from Billboard Power 100: Taylor Swift spoke the truth.
But why switch labels? Instead of searching for a new label, e.g., Universal, why not start one? Now that question would be premature for a new artist. And frankly, for most music artists. They are typically one dimension - they know how to perform whether it is singing or writing a song or playing an instrument. The business end is beyond them. That is why a good portion of their money goes to agents and managers, etc. The advantage is that it leaves them the time to be a performer. For many, being an artist is all that counts.
But Taylor is hardly a new artist. She is well versed on the business side. Taylor is one of the most interesting artists in this century, albeit that might be too limiting. But, as I read the reviews, articles and posts, even those from competent media reporters, I have a different perception of Taylor.
It is not that of Taylor the brainless, boyfriend destroyer, can't dance, and looking good in shorts Taylor. But the singer-songwriter, performer, etc', Taylor; and more importantly, Taylor Swift the CEO, the source of innovation and creativity for the brand Taylor Swift. That is not to take away from her management team - one she formed with chosen experienced executives.
Her management team is her company 13 Management. It is a privately held being led at the last time I looked by the experienced Robert Allen. This from Nashville.com in 2013:
"As Swift’s manager, Robert Allen works with his colleagues at 13 Management to organize and oversee her tours, at home and abroad. Born in England, he knows how to move artists, retinues and gear around Europe. As the older brother of Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen, he learned the basics by managing the group’s business and travel. This led to work with Ozzy Osbourne and other major acts, with whom he became familiar with the great concert venues of Asia."Taylor has essentially two roles at 13 Management. She is the founder and CEO and also the product. Allen is responsible for the business side of Taylor Swift brand. But, it has been said that no significant decision is made without Taylor. She runs a tight ship that includes all aspects of music production, except the record label. Why does she need Big Machine as her record label?
A good read is Behind the music: What do record labels actually do? You'd be surprised. The 'surprise' is that the label provides more to the artist than one might realize, but Taylor and her 13 Management company provides that and more. One important element noted was that the record label provides local expertise, however, Big Machine local expertise is country, not pop. Borchetta has no pop expertise. There are no 'pop' artists seeking to be on a country label.
Ed Sheeran's producer, Jake Gosling: "What Ed and I had done without a record company had proven to the label that we could do it on our own, that all we needed was help and support and finance, getting us to more people and being able to pull the strings when needed to get us on a TV show – those moves are harder to do when you're a bit more independent." Harder, but apparently not that hard.
Isn't it clear that Taylor with her own management company along with her financial and performance (singer, songwriter, touring, etc.) successes puts her in the spot to [access] more people and being able to pull the strings when needed to get [
Gosling continues: "You still need labels. You've got to remember they've got marketing teams, press teams, radio pluggers, accounts departments and when you get bigger you need help with that stuff. You need a good team around you." And the kicker. "OK, maybe you could hire those people yourself and set up your own label, but there's something to be said for deciding that you want to make music and be creative, and I don't want the hassle. You can be really creative but not very good at business and marketing.
And Gosling final pitch for a record label: "What I like about record companies is that they present and nurture artists." Frankly, I doubt that Taylor has ever needed Big Machine, especially Borchetta, to present and nurture her.
Does this from the Rolling Stone cover story sound like someone that needs or even wants nurturing?
"When she first turned in the record , she says the head of her label, Scott Borchetta, told her, "This is extraordinary – it's the best album you've ever done. Can you just give me three country songs?"
"Love you, mean it," is how Swift characterizes her response. "But this is how it's going to be."I think we know who is in charge of her career.
And it has been Taylor that has done all the leg work to promote herself. I suspect, especially now, that her marketing and promotion is handled all within 13 Management. And it is doubtful that Borchetta or Big Machine ever provided the financial support to establish the Taylor Swift brand.
I recall a story about one of Taylor's early promotional videos where she relates that it was Borchetta's wife that made the dress (wedding dress if I remember correctly) in the video. And another story was that Taylor's parents invested some money in the new start-up Big Machine. In the beginning, Borchetta wasn't in any financial shape to present and nurture Taylor.