Taylor Swift wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal about the future of the music industry, which — as Josh mentioned yesterday — isn’t looking so hot right now. While Swift is admittedly more of an “enthusiastic optimist” than the rest of us (because, let’s face it, of course she is), she also makes a few observations about the way the industry is adapting which proves that she’s more savvy than most people give her credit for. I’ll hand that one to you, Swifty. Here are some of her random observations:
In which she clearly throws shade at Miley Cyrus:
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?
On how keeping fans excited is basically the old married couple equivalent of “doing it in the butt”:
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.
Oh, and that sweet Jonas Brothers autograph you got eight years ago? Is basically worthless now:
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.”
Why the casting social media account is the new casting couch:
A friend of mine, who is an actress, told me that when the casting for her recent movie came down to two actresses, the casting director chose the actress with more Twitter followers. I see this becoming a trend in the music industry. For me, this dates back to 2005 when I walked into my first record-label meetings, explaining to them that I had been communicating directly with my fans on this new site called Myspace. In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans—not the other way around.
On why, as I like to call it, “All The Sh*t Sounds The Same”:
Another theme I see fading into the gray is genre distinction. These days, nothing great you hear on the radio seems to come from just one musical influence. The wild, unpredictable fun in making music today is that anything goes. Pop sounds like hip hop; country sounds like rock; rock sounds like soul; and folk sounds like country—and to me, that’s incredible progress. 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.
So basically, almost everything you thought was wrong with music and the entertainment industry, given a Swifty sprinkling of glitter and modest application of Lisa Frank stickers. But the thing is, she’s not wrong — for better or worse, this is how things are now. I guess the rest of us either have to get with the times or invest in an industrial strength firehose to keep the kids off our collective lawns.