Taylor Swift has put in her two cents in an article she wrote for the Wall Street Journal on the future of country music. Taylor, a self-proclaimed optimist, does offer a unique perspective. At just 24 she’s one of the most successful artists of all time. In an age of dying album sales, Taylor still manages to sell millions in just the first week, her digital sales are even more popular. She’s selling out stadiums and venues world wide. Her music has blurred genres, making the top of both pop and country charts. For her, it’s proof that the music industry isn’t dying at all…You just have embrace change and be more inventive.
I’d like to point out that people are still buying albums, but now they’re buying just a few of them. They are buying only the ones that hit them like an arrow through the heart or have made them feel strong or allowed them to feel like they really aren’t alone in feeling so alone. It isn’t as easy today as it was 20 years ago to have a multiplatinum-selling album, and as artists, that should challenge and motivate us.
There are always going to be those artists who break through on an emotional level and end up in people’s lives forever. The way I see it, fans view music the way they view their relationships. Some music is just for fun, a passing fling (the ones they dance to at clubs and parties for a month while the song is a huge radio hit, that they will soon forget they ever danced to). Some songs and albums represent seasons of our lives, like relationships that we hold dear in our memories but had their time and place in the past.
However, some artists will be like finding “the one.” We will cherish every album they put out until they retire and we will play their music for our children and grandchildren. As an artist, this is the dream bond we hope to establish with our fans. I think the future still holds the possibility for this kind of bond, the one my father has with the Beach Boys and the one my mother has with Carly Simon.
Taylor has proven that a close relationship with fans can go a long way. It’s not just about making music on stage and in the studio. Taylor is out to prove that personal relationships go a long way. She has always been one of the more fan friendly artists, signing autographs for hours, giving hugs and selfies. She personally responds to facebook comments and tweets. She is all about making sure everyone has the best experience possibly in every avenue.
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.
Instead of fighting change, Taylor has always embraced it and gone with the punches. Some artists who’ve been around a while, have had a harder time adjusting to the digital changes of music and social media. Others like Blake Shelton have jumped in head first. The thing is, it’s been pretty proven that artist popularity and music sales tend to go hand in hand.
You can see the entire article here, and see how much the industry has changed.