When I first saw a tweet expressing disbelief that Taylor Swift had written an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, I ignored it, thinking it was a mistake. But it turns out that yes, indeed, this story does exist.
As part of its 125th anniversary celebration, The WSJ included a column by singer/songwriter/everyone’s bestie during a break up, Taylor Swift. On its face, this is a stunt. The WSJ is considered stuffy and serious, usually not the place where you would see much about a country-pop music star, let alone a byline by one. But actually, it’s an inspired move that shines a light on the creative ways that you can present a brand to the world.
In the column, Swift declares her optimism about the future of music in the face of falling sales numbers (ahem).
“In my opinion, the value of an album is, and will continue to be, based on the amount of heart and soul an artist has bled into a body of work, and the financial value that artists (and their labels) place on their music when it goes out into the marketplace. Piracy, file sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently,” she writes.
Taylor Swift has been nominated and won countless awards over the course of her career. As a couple of friends pointed out, she’s brilliant on social media. And at 24 years old, she’s a millennial with enough talent and enough fans to be around for a long time. If anyone can speak to the direction that the music industry is taking, it’s her.
And her voice is accompanied by the sounds of the cash register ringing. She ranked number one on Billboard‘s annual list of Money Makers, making $39,699,575.60. Her album sales were number eight, her digital sales put her in sixth place and she tops the list of country music stars for streaming royalties. These hard numbers are just the thing you would think a Journal reader would be interested in. And it gives her credibility.
“In mentioning album sales, 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,” she wrote in a tone that sounds very much like Taylor Swift and very little like the WSJ.
There’s a confluence here that has had everyone buzzing over the past few days. Over a glass of wine with the aforementioned friends, we talked about all of the ways this column made sense. The fact that the three of us, none of us huge Swifties, we were talking about this op-ed over drinks is proof of just how clever it was.
Image via @TaylorSwift