Taylor Swift's Successful Business Way

Taylor Swift makes money professionally in the entertainment industry thanks to her own tactics in HR, marketing, customer building and continuous innovation.

At 33, pop star Taylor Swift is one of the world's most influential entertainment entrepreneurs, according to the WSJ .

She took control of the copyrights of her songs instead of the music labels, ready to take on the giants, like the battle with Spotify and sell record number of albums. She maintains the loyalty of her fans by chatting with them online.

Taylor Swift's tours are so attractive that the online ticketing system Ticketmaster is overloaded, the website is down. Currently, her " Eras Tour " is predicted to be the biggest tour of all time with the potential to earn more than a billion dollars.

While other stars like Rihanna actively make money in many other fields, Taylor Swift focuses on the entertainment industry. Here are some management lessons learned by the WSJ from Swift's failures and successes.

Taylor Swift arrives at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards on February 5 in Los Angeles. Photo: AP

Lean team

While many artists in the music industry give their businesses to outsiders, Swift still prefers to run the business. Her company 13 Management has a lean staff. The business is supported by close people from family to some confidants.

She often avoids hiring outside managers, brokers and lawyers to save on operating costs. Meanwhile, the corporate office is encapsulated in her private hangar in Nashville, Tennessee.

Going from basic to complex

At the age of 11, while her mother and younger brother waited in the car, Swift knocked on the door of every record label in Nashville to invite them to listen to a CD of her karaoke songs. When that didn't garner interest, Swift bought a 12-string guitar and practiced for hours every day.

With that, she began to practice composing. Two years later, her original songs helped secure a development agreement with RCA Records.

Seize the opportunity

Before the release of an album, unknown country artists often perform at about 200 radio stations across the United States because their ratings contribute to their placement in the song charts. If one of their songs gets a lot of support, it goes on to air again and again and climbs the charts, prompting the record label to decide to release the rest of the album.

Rick Barker, who took Swift on the first leg of her 2006 radio tour and later became her manager, says the arduous journey can be demoralizing and affect many artists. doctor.

During a visit to K-FROG radio station in Riverside (California), Barker was reminded not to bother busy program directors about getting Swift on the air.

However, while playing "Tim McGraw" in the station's studio, when it came to the line that "one day you'll turn on your radio", Swift glanced at Barker and changed the text to "one day you will turn on K-FROG". This quick wit of hers worked, the station immediately wanted to introduce Swift to the audience.

Taylor Swift performing "Tim McGraw" at the 2007 Academy of Country Music Awards. Photo: AP

Build and mobilize an audience

Swift soon built up her fan base online, first on Myspace, then Tumblr, Instagram, and TikTok. Platforms allow her to bring music to listeners' favorites faster than radio. "When she sees people on Myspace, she sees it as a performance venue. She plays music to thousands of fans every night," Barker said.

During a break from advertising at K-FROG, Swift informed fans on Myspace that she would be on the station. The station's phone line was then flooded with calls thanking Swift for playing the song.

Swift's pioneering use of social media is now seen as key to artists' relationships with consumers. "The way she uses technology to create authentic connections with her fans has shaped the modern music industry in so many ways," said Lucian Grainge, CEO of Universal Music Group, record label and publisher. Swift's version commented.

Take care of your partner

Other CEOs, radio program directors, and business partners describe Swift's keen memory with details about their spouses and children. They said she still had her handwritten thank you cards.

Some people close to Swift said she or a member of the team will save important information about the partner for Swift and everyone to review before they meet again next time.

Tom Poleman, Director of Broadcasting at iHeartMedia describes that Swift knows where everyone she met stopped in their last conversation. "To do it at such a young age is remarkable - to engage in relationship building not only with listeners but also with business partners," he said.

Keep yourself fresh

A big part of Taylor Swift's enduring strength is self-renewal, according to music execs. Rod Essig, Swift's Representative in the early years, said that no two records are alike, nor are performances ever alike. "People are so excited," he said.

When Swift decided to release her first authentic pop album, she invited them to "Secret Sessions," held at her various homes, where she played unreleased songs from album "1989." This album took Swift to new heights in sales and fame.

Leverage yourself

When sales skyrocketed a few weeks after the release of "1989" in 2014, Swift withdrew all songs from the Spotify music platform. She fought the giant, demanding that Spotify only offer "1989" to paid listeners.

"Things of value should be paid for," she wrote in an editorial for the WSJ . "In my view, music shouldn't be free and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will one day determine the price of an album," she said.

To fix the relationship, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek flew to Nashville several times to speak with Swift. But it wasn't until three years later, before releasing her album "Reputation," that she agreed to re-release the songs on Spotify. By that time, "1989" had sold 10 million copies worldwide. The avoidance of the free release helped drive these sales.

"I don't think Spotify has done anything to convince Taylor. She is very independent and makes many decisions on her own," commented Ek. Realizing that there was a huge audience on Spotify, Swift did not release the album "Reputation" on streaming services in the first 3 weeks of its release to maximize sales. The album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, selling 41% more copies than the total of 199 other albums.

Breaking precedent

In 2018, Swift signed an agreement with Universal that gave her ownership of any music she recorded. But her first six albums are still under the independent label Big Machine. No matter how many times she tried, she still couldn't buy back their copyrights. So she decided to re-release the new version for her own copyright.

And the result is that no other artist has ever done it successfully with her in this way. Swift adds unreleased songs to albums and encourages fans to purchase new versions.

She lobbied fans to get involved, explaining why ownership matters. Streaming services and radio stations also support and replace old versions of albums copyrighted by Big Machine with new versions copyrighted by Swift. According to an analysis by the WSJ , new versions of albums like "Fearless" and "Red" even outperform their older versions by a 3-to-1 ratio.

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