Singer and songwriter Taylor Swift was recently named one of the most powerful women in the world by making her debut in Forbes Power Women List this year at No. 64, as the youngest woman, at 25, on the coveted list.
Launched in 2004, the Forbes list recognizes women from around the world based on “money, media momentum, spheres of influence and impact.” Angela Merkel (Chancellor of Germany), Hillary Clinton, Melinda Gates, Janet Yellen, and Mary Barra round out the top five. Michelle Obama came in at No. 10.
Swift has sold more than 4.5 million of her newest album, “1989,” released in October last year. It was 2014’s first album to go platinum and between its release on October 27 and November 2, “1989” made up 22% of all albums sold in the US. Swift is one of the most followed celebrities on Twitter with 58 million followers, and Forbes estimates her earnings last year were $64 million.
I confess that I have had a huge crush on Taylor Swift, but not because of her gorgeous smile and lanky legs…or knack for writing heart-knocking, chart-rocking songs…and not even her well-nurtured, loyal fan base connection…all of which is substantive reasons for any bonafide crush.
But at the core of my admiration is her business savvy, work ethic and finely-tuned moxy, facing off and disrupting traditional music business methods in relentless fashion, as she navigates and carves a path for innovation and smart artist business strategies.
My respect is anchored by my passion for girls and young women to have smart, powerful and innovative role models, especially in the entertainment industry, who lead by showing what can be imagined and accomplished without forfeiting their integrity and dignity.
Here’s what I think shines about the model she provides:
- She doesn’t seem to have buckled to pressure to “slut it down,” by provocative dressing and profane posturing to please agents, promoters, and even peers and potential fans.
- She has stayed true to her artistic pathway and imaginings, crafting her songwriting and musical expression to resonate with her creative exploration; despite critics who clamored for her to “stay bound to her country roots.”
- Swift has developed and surrounded herself with a brilliant business team. Her divergence out of country territory may have offended her first fans, but the new album released last fall won her legions more. “A big part of that had to with her extensive marketing campaign, which included a blitz of television and radio appearances and those ubiquitous Diet Coke ads. The physical release, which included a CD version with extra tracks sold only at Target, sold 647,000 copies, and 640,000 digital versions were downloaded. But the push really began back in August when Swift released “Shake It Off” as a single and sent fans to iTunes to pre-order the album,” according to an article by Jill Krasny in Inc.
- She speaks out about music industry practices. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Swift explained how she fears artists are undervaluing their albums. Months later, she pulled all of her songs from Spotify.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘How did you have the courage to walk up to record labels when you were 12 or 13 and jump right into the music industry?’ It’s because I knew I could never feel the kind of rejection that I felt in middle school. Because in the music industry, if they’re gonna say no to you, at least they’re gonna be polite about it,” Taylor Swift.
- She’s a feminist…in the truest sense of the word (in my view). It’s no secret that Taylor Swift is often ridiculed in music for writing about her love life, which is really at the core of what most songwriters do. But in 2014, she decided to respond to these criticisms. In interviews, she labeled these comments as sexist and referred to herself as a feminist.
Swift is a social media master. On platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook she makes direct connections with fans, often reposting images of them with her album. “When you do that, you generate a kind of advocacy and excitement that no level of advertising could,” Matt Britton, chief executive of MRY, a youth marketing agency with the Publicis Groupe, told the New York Times. When fans see her hanging out at a Knicks game, they feel like they’re a part of her life, and that makes her authentic.
The news of her debut on the Most Powerful Women list came about a week after Swift walked away with eight trophies at the Billboard Music Awards, where she debuted her video for “Bad Blood.” The video garnered 20.1 million plays in a 24-hour period, and broke Vevo’s record for the most views.
I’m not saying Swift is perfect, by any means, and I expect she will stumble and make mistakes along her artistic journey. However, I am really encouraged to see how she connects with her fans in an authentic and thoughtful way, and has a sense of the reality that many young people do look up to her as a role model.
CCS’s Founder and CVO, Susan Fontaine Godwin is an educator and long-time member of the Christian arts community with 30 years of experience in the Christian media industry, church copyright administration and copyright management. Susan is an author and speaker and frequently writes for several Christian magazines and online publications. She serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Mobile.
About Christian Copyright Solutions: CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches, as well as representation, administration and advocacy for copyright owners. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel